The former reports that the British National Party (BNP) staged a demonstration against the plans outside the mosque last weekend handing out leaflets. Signs have also been put up outside the mosque demanding “SAY NO TO MOSQUE”.
Stephen Squire, BNP’s London organiser, stated: “It’s not being viewed as positive by the local community.
“There are less than two per cent in that ward of people who are of that religious persuasion.
“They [mosques] don’t belong here. The BNP aren’t against mosques, we like mosques but in Muslim countries.”
In addition, a petition entitled ‘Rejection of Planning Permission to expand the Al-Emaan Muslim Centre’ has been launched. It has been signed by more than 50 people so far.
Al-Emaan Centre, which purchased the former church, proposed to turn the site into a community centre. It submitted a planning application to the council in December for plans to add a mezzanine floor, single-storey extension, and four additional parking spaces on the site, bringing the total to only 13 spaces.
Yet both News Shopper and This Is Local London report that the plans have further kindled concerns over traffic and parking in the area.
It is interesting to note that Dr Taha, co-managing director of the Al-Emaan Centre, confirmed that the premises have been in use since October, with prayers being held five times a day as well as activities and events for the youth, men, women and the family.
Dr Taha observed that “Despite these activities there didn’t seem to be any disturbance to the local neighbourhood and no complaints were raised at all – in fact I’m not sure if anyone even realised we were there!”
It appears concerns over the conversion are being exploited and distorted by the BNP to further its own entrenched anti-Muslim prejudice.
It would be useful for the BNP to bear in mind that it is rather unusual for permission for the conversion of a religious building to be required since the site will remain a designated place of worship.
The Bromley Council’s decision regarding the planning application still remains pending. The Council affirmed: “We will assess this application carefully and consider the planning merits before making our decision in the usual way.”