One of Europe’s biggest mosques with a capacity of 12,000 could yet be built next to the Olympics site in east London if a fundamentalist Islamic sect wins a planning appeal that starts next week. Leaders of Tablighi Jamaat (TJ), whose followers have been linked to a number of planned and actual terrorist atrocities, are appealing to a Public Inquiry which starts on Tuesday. If they lose however, they claim it could mean the end of their mega-mosque “development dreams” for their site at West Ham.
TJ has been using the site for a temporary mosque for the past four years without planning permission. They had previously constructed buildings on the site against planning regulations. Twelve months ago Newham Council ordered them to cease all public and religious activities on site.
“Tablighi Jamaat have acted unlawfully and irresponsibly,” said Alan Craig, campaign director of local opposition group Newham Concern and former leader of the Opposition on Newham Council. “Their track record since they bought the site in 1996 amply demonstrates that they are not concerned to abide by planning regulations; they clearly consider they are above the law that the rest of us have to keep. Newham Council is to be congratulated for ordering them off site.”
The appeal, which will be heard by the government’s independent Planning Inspector at Newham Town Hall in East Ham, starts on Tuesday 8 February and is expected to last for at least eight days.
Newham Concern is calling two Muslim experts as specialist witnesses to highlight the fundamentalist and socially harmful nature of the sect. Dr Taj Hargey, chairman of the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford and Imam of Oxford Islamic Congregation, has publicly criticised TJ for its promotion of hard-line separatism and intolerance. Tehmina Kazi, director of British Muslims for Secular Democracy will testify to TJ’s misogyny and refusal to open their current facilities to women.
“This Inquiry is a moment of truth,” said Alan Craig. “If the TJ appeal fails, they will have to close down the temporary mosque and their plans for the mega-mosque will be dealt a major blow.
“If it succeeds however, they say they now have the necessary funding in place and they will publish their architect’s master plan before the end of the year; their mega-mosque project will go ahead.”