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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Islamic center building - part 1

Several reasons to take proposed mosque-building seriously:

[Ah, yes but Muslims should be allowed to practice their faith.  The first issue is whether or not a mosque should be built in the area they are aiming to build it.  The second issue is about the way in which Islamic is taught and practiced in a proposed mosque. It is not just about Muslims exercising their right to practice Islam, it is about the impact that have on a given area/ community.] 

This article is about stopping planning applications for inappropriate mosques in inappropriate locations.

     Part 1- On a practical level:

Doveton mosque
An artist's impression of the proposed
 Doveton mosque.  Leader
1.       They are often called Islamic community centres and the word mosque deliberately omitted in order to mislead non-Muslims into thinking that it is not a place of worship. Mosques aren’t just places of worship as in the sense of a church or synagogue.  There is a lot more to a mosque than just praying.  It is a communication, education, Islamic law, information, political centre (that is closed to non-Muslims for 99% of the time).

2.       Mosques aren’t like a church or business.  Their business hours are often 16 hours or more long, all year round. Starting time for communal prayers depends on the season, but it is usually 4 am to 6am. Hence, there will a steady flow of people.  What will be the impact on local residents & business?  From Australia, "The mosque committee is desperate to relocate from Photinia St, because of complaints about car parking, crowds and noise there.".Friday services have been split into two, so local streets aren’t clogged with traffic. City officials and nearby residents are working with the centre to answer questions such as: where to put more parking? Read more:

3.       There will be a significant intensification of the use of the premises on Fridays, during the period of Ramadan as well as other Islamic holidays.  Ramadan lasts for one month.
4.       Is there another mosque within walking distance? If yes, this should raise a question as to what is the purpose of building another mosque, if it is disproportionate to the need by the Muslims in the are.  Take this example from the UK – “Sunderland Jami-Masjid – the mosque on Chester Road, around the corner from the proposed Millfield mosque”.  The local councillor says: “The existing mosque serves mostly a British Bangladeshi clientele while the new mosque will be for British Pakistani Muslims but also have better facilities for women and families that the Chester Road mosque lacks.
5.       There is the issue of parking spaces and road congestion, especially at “peak” prayer periods.  Many of the applications do not adequately consider this problem, particularly in relation to other nearby amenities & businesses.  “[The] mosque will only have the 2 existing car parking spaces, but the planning required 120 spaces.”

6.       Problems with “noise pollution” due to the use of a mosque’s loudspeakers to announce (amplified) prayer calls. Even if loudspeakers aren’t installed, there is still a noise issue & regular disturbance when accessing and leaving the premises, especially in quiet residential areas.  Take the case of some places in the Balkans, where encroaching mosque building in areas with few Muslims has resulted in high levels of noise pollution, which had a significant detrimental effect on the local non-Muslim residents. Here is a comment regarding the local small mosque " During holy events, you can double the problem, and that's with the much smaller illegal mosque. Plus, there is the noise. Those leaving their events at 3 AM aren't quiet. No, they have enjoyed themselves and are happily chatting with each other, on the phone, slamming their car doors, revving their engines... all while I am trying to get some sleep."
Serbian village- Delimeđe (pop of 500

7.       There is the possibility of a detrimental visual impact on the area. The addition of dome(s) & minarets are a visible reminder of its purpose as an Islamic centre, are not essential, as this is a legacy from Ottoman style mosques.)

8.       Potential disruption to nearby businesses, as a proposed mosque could undermine the economic viability of a local area. Take this situation where a proposed mosque was in the words of a local councillor "an inappropriate development in an industrial area". The permit got approved despite 1900 objections.  The new Cambridge mosque in the UK will certainly cause disruptions as the area is already heavily congested, not surprisingly residents expressed concern about parking and traffic congestion in the busy residential and shopping street. (The street is already bad, the mosque "is expected to cater for up to 1,000 worshippers")

9.       Potential harm to the character of a location, especially if the proposed mosque is in an historical/ heritage area, as in this case where the local council stated that it will: “not positively contribute to the character and appearance of the local environment”. (Nothing to do with 30 m high minarets being proposed in an area that no other structures that high and a nearby Christian church??!!).

Unfortunately, there are many instants of mosques being set up without planning permission, often “behind the smoke screen of a planning application”.  This makes the application a mockery and it shows the utter contempt (by Muslims leaders & community) towards the authorities and the rest of the local community, as well as the law of the land.  This is could be prevented by rejecting any applications for a very long time in these cases.

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