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Muslims and non-Muslims unite in opposition to West Ham Olympics mega-mosque

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For Immediate Release: 16 November 2006

Residents petition campaign gaining momentum as “support comes from all quarters”

“Opposition to the proposed West Ham mega-mosque is coming from local Muslim and non-Muslim residents alike,” said Councillor Alan Craig today. Cllr Craig is leader of the Christian Peoples Alliance group on Newham Council – a borough which the local town hall says is the most diverse area in the country with well over 100 languages spoken daily.

Following hard on the recent disclosure that members of Newham’s Muslim communities have already organised a 2,500-signature petition against the mega-mosque, West Ham residents have started their own petition campaign in the streets surrounding the site.

It is anticipated that the mosque, when completed, will cost over £100m, will ultimately have a capacity of over 40,000 and will be the biggest mosque in Europe. Islamic backers Tablighi Jamaat intend it to be their international headquarters, a UK national landmark and the hub of an Olympics ‘Islamic quarter’ less than a mile from the main stadium of the 2012 Olympics.

“This growth of opposition is encouraging,” said Cllr Craig. “The signatures for the Muslim petition have come almost entirely from Newham’s mosques. They object to Tablighi Jamaat which, they say, is an intolerant separatist sect within Islam that is radicalising their young men, sending them off to Pakistani madrassas (Islamic schools) and causing disharmony.

“Nearby West Ham residents – from all cultures and religions - are concerned about the impact of this massive mosque on their local community,” continued Alan Craig. “It will have a huge unwanted impact on traffic, environment, homes, schools etc, and there simply isn’t the local infrastructure to support such a development.

“Also, Tablighi Jamaat built their current European headquarters mosque in the Savile Town area of Dewsbury, west Yorkshire, 25 years ago, and since then that neighbourhood has become a Tablighi enclave whose residents are 90% Muslim. We don’t want to create a similar enclosed ‘parallel society’ here in east London where today all races, cultures and religions mix in together fairly well.”

The chairman of West Ham’s Triangle Residents Association that is a few hundred metres from the mosque site, said, “People around here don’t want this project to go ahead. It will have an adverse impact on our neighbourhood that we just don’t need. That’s why we are organising the petition on our estate.”

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Queries:  Cllr Alan Craig   07939 547198