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Thursday, July 24, 2014

How to Block a Mosque

The website Mosqueblock offers a wide range of advice on how to fight mosque planning applications.

It asks its readers to steer clear of stating any racial or religious reasons while objecting to the mosque plans at their local council.

In a recent news announcement, it states

‘Our message to you is to get organised , and use the council planning process to your advantage. It`s your community , and your choice. Silence implies assent !!’

The site runs a methodical breakdown of a mosque blocking project.

Do your homework!!’, it says.

Its time to run your street petition’.

Speak to the local residents’

Don’t bother with the MPs, they will only refer you back to the council’.

Some articles go in great detail on describing the planning permission applications, the hearings and how to effectively present an Anti-Mosque case.

The site also features news on the recent ‘victories’ by various local residents who have successfully petitioned and campaigned against new Mosques in various British towns and cities.

Great News!
The latest news is from the town of Halesowen, where residents rejoice at the rejection of a plan to add minarets and a dome to the Baitul Ghafoor Mosque, run by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association.

The local paper, Worcester News thinks that the Mosque organizers may have considered the anti-mosque campaign to be racist in nature.

When I read further, I read a disgruntled local woman resenting the fact that she has been branded a racist for only speaking her mind.

What were the remarks Dr. Muhammad Ashraf which may have insinuated racist motivations behind this organized campaign? A campaign supported by the local councilors, but mostly by UKIP's Stuart Henley.

Dr. Ashraf had only said that the locals misunderstood the religion of Islam and that may have caused their opposition to the Mosque.

If anything, Dr. Ashraf suggested that Islamophobia is a fuelling the campaign, not racism.

One of the petitions signed by dozens of residents states

Local residents will be very unhappy to be overlooked by the minarets’ and ‘the logical progression might be loudspeakers for calls to prayer…five times a day’

Having seen the proposed maps of the changes, it appears that both the dome and the minaret were only symbolic to identify the building as a mosque. No Muezzin was to go up the minaret five times a day for call to prayers, neither was there any plans to use loudspeakers on them.

Obviously the objectors had imagined their neighborhood turning into down-town Istanbul within days of the minarets going up.

Almost every petition against the Mosque stated that the change will not be in keeping with the local area.

It will be totally out of character for this part of Halesowen North’. Writes Councillor Hillary Bills.

Despite being progressive, are we to disregard our heritage for a welcome?’ Asks one gentleman

But, why can’t you accept a Mosque as a new addition to your heritage? There are Mosques in this country which can truly be called heritage buildings. Fazl Mosque in Southfields or Shah Jehan Mosque in Woking are two such examples.

Fazl Mosque. The first Mosque built in London is almost 100 years old
Would you allow an alteration to the building if the Minarets were in line with the architecture of the building and in keeping with the surrounding area? Or is it the idea of the Minaret, symbolizing a Mosque which bothers you?

Then there is the argument that in this day and age Mosque do not need to have any identifying features, as Mr. Henly (of UKIP) argues on his facebook page.

Mosques are not only spaces for worship; they are also converging points for a Muslim community. They are part of their identity. A Muslim is required to attend the mosque five times a day. Just as you cannot ask a bearded Jewish or Muslim man to do away with facial hair, just as you cannot tell a nun or a hijab wearing lady to discard their head covering, you cannot tell Muslims what their mosques should look like. (I am hoping that I am right in my assumption of tolerance here)

Yes, aesthetics are also very important, and keeping the building in harmony with its surroundings is a matter of common sense, but refusing to allow minarets is an extreme act.

Pakistani Government does not allow Ahmadi Muslims (who own the Halesowen Mosque) to build Mosques which look like Mosques as it hurts the sentiments of the Muslims.

Should a Mosque not have its identifying features? Yes, you can put up a signboard in front of any building to call it anything you like, but is that aesthetically pleasing?

The problem here is that the British people are being fed a constant diet of suspicion, hatred and paranoia by the media and various political interests.

According to the How to block a Mosque Course 101, the objectors should ask questions

Where would worshipers park?

Is there any on site parking?

How many will attend?

And at what times of the day?’

And sure enough, some Halesowen residents suggested that the minarets will attract more traffic in the street.

Minarets don’t emit homing beacons for any cars carrying Muslim drivers to converge at that spot. It is already a functioning Mosque, having minarets won’t change the attendance levels.

One comment summarizes it all for me. One lady, who apparently works in a Muslim majority school, opined that she knows about ‘their faith’, and she knows that the minarets are for cosmetic reasons only.

It appears that everyone in Halesowen have an opinion on how its Muslims residents should practice their faith, apart for those Muslims who wish to worship in the Baitul Ghafoor Mosque.

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