From A Battle Rages in London Over a Mega-Mosque Plan, by JANE PERLEZ, November 4, 2007:
LONDON — Disputes over mosques have broken out across Europe. Residents from Belgium to France to Germany have expressed unease at minarets competing in the urban landscape with the spires and stones of centuries-old cathedrals.
But the fight raging over an abandoned lot in London's East End is of an altogether grander scale. A large and secretive Islamic sect proposed building what would have been the largest mosque in Europe, smack at the gateway to the 2012 Olympic Games, and within sight of London’s financial district.
That plan was sent back to the drawing board to be scaled down, but not before raising a furor of equal size and discomforting questions about the right of Britain’s Muslims to take up a public space commensurate with their growing numbers.
This summer on the Web site of Prime Minister Gordon Brown, more than 250,000 critics of the proposed mosque supported a petition initiated by a backer of the conservative British National Party. Some of them said a large mosque had no right to exist in such a prominent place in a Christian country.
The BNP has been out front taking a stand regarding immigration and related issues in the United Kingdom. Some of the blogs I link to on the sidebar belong to vocal supporters of the BNP. It is interesting to go there, and then check out their links.
When, around the same time, Karen Armstrong, a historian of religion, wrote an article in the liberal Guardian newspaper commenting favorably about the mosque, the paper’s Web site was deluged with complaints.
In Newham, the borough where the mosque would stand, Alan Craig, the leader of the Christian Peoples Alliance Party in the East End, started a one-man campaign against the mosque a year ago that has grown and gained national prominence.
He began by emphasizing the size of the mosque. But now he focuses on its sponsor, Tablighi Jamaat, a worldwide evangelical Islamic group based in Pakistan with millions of followers that professes to encourage Muslims to be more loyal to their faith.
Within the Islamic world, a call for followers to be more faithful has often been a coded message calling for radicalism, extremism and terrorism.
American and European law enforcement officials say Tablighi Jamaat's simple message masks a fertile recruiting ground for terrorists. Two of the suicide bombers who attacked the London transit system in July 2005 had attended Tablighi Jamaat gatherings, British security officials said.
Tablighi Jamaat "is a separatist organization," Mr. Craig said in an interview in his living room where a picture of the crucifixion of Christ hung on a wall, a cross rested on a bookshelf, and a Bible lay on the coffee table.
This guy openly displays a Bible -- he must be a right-wing neofascist kook!
"They refer to us as kafir," a term of contempt, he added. "That's not what we need. We don’t want this mosque in East London. It will be disastrous."
If you don't know what that term kafir means, you might want to research it. The plural is kuffar. See kafir:
Kafir (Arabic: كافر kāfir; plural كفّار kuffār) is an Arabic word literally meaning "ingrate". In the Islamic doctrinal sense the term refers to a person who does not recognize Allah or the finality of the prophethood of Muhammad and hides, denies, or covers the truth. In cultural terms, it is seen as a derogatory term used to describe an unbeliever, non-Muslims, apostate from Islam and even between Muslims of different sects. It is usually translated into English as "infidel" or "unbeliever."
Back to A Battle Rages....
That Mr. Craig's immediate neighbors include a Pakistani family on one side of his row house, and immigrants up and down the block, speaks to the changes in the East End, where South Asian Muslims are among the latest wave of immigrants.
The area has welcomed newcomers to London over the ages, starting with the French Huguenots and including Jews in the 19th century. Now nearly 30 mosques, most of them small, are crowded during Friday Prayer.
The 2001 census shows 34.2 percent of the Newham borough population is white. South Asians and blacks predominate. Christianity remains dominant at 46.8 percent and Muslims make up 24.3 percent.
The driving force behind the plan to build a grander mosque has been Abdul Khaliq Mian, 55, a British businessman born in Pakistan and a longtime follower of Tablighi Jamaat.
In an interview, Mr. Mian explained how in 1996 he helped raise £1.6 million, or about $2.9 million at the time, from the Tablighi community to buy an abandoned lot that was once the site of a sulfuric acid plant.
Mr. Mian, who came to Britain at age 11, said that in the late 1990s officials on the Newham Borough Council, which includes Muslims, encouraged Tablighi Jamaat to build a grand mosque befitting the scale of the land.
"I was told it was a very, very strategic site," Mr. Mian said. "They said, 'Get a planner and the best architect you can and build the biggest mosque you can.'"
An up and coming architect, Ali Mangara, 40, a Muslim born in South Africa, produced a design that envisioned wind turbines instead of minarets, and generous use of gardens, courtyards and restaurants. In all, with the use of awnings as cover, about 70,000 worshipers would be accommodated, Mr. Mangara said.
Whether you are in favor of it or not, that is impressive!
"It was intended to reach out and bring new people into the complex," he said, showing off a model of his futuristic design.
The size of the congregation and avant garde nature of Mr. Mangara's plans fueled Mr. Craig's opposition. He accused Tablighi Jamaat of seeking financing from Saudi Arabia, though there is debate about this.
The Saudis would finance a big, new mosque, but at a price....
After raising money for the land, Mr. Mangara said, the group never provided additional financing for permits to build his design. Several months ago, his plan that had created the furor was dropped, and Tablighi Jamaat pushed Mr. Mian aside, though he remains a follower.
In Mr. Mangara's place, an establishment London architectural firm, Allies & Morrison, known for projects like refurbishing Royal Festival Hall, has been hired to build a smaller version, which would hold about 12,000.
A developer, Sohail Sarbuland, a Muslim but not a member of Tablighi Jamaat, has pledged the money for the building permits.
Mr. Mangara and others say any breaking of ground will be delayed until after the 2012 Olympics. The issue will be finessed by a slow design process, and delays in the planning process, he said.
On the 10 Downing Street Web site, the prime minister's office notes that no planning application has been made, and makes clear that the government has taken no position.
So this is a proactive concern on the part of those who are opposed.
A London public relations firm, Indigo, which has put up a Web site about the mosque, abbeymillsmosque.com, has been hired by Tablighi Jamaat to speak for it.
I just checked that website, and found nothing.
An Indigo spokesman, Nick Kilby, said Tablighi Jamaat trustees would not talk to the news media. Phone calls to Tablighi Jamaat drew no response.
Mr. Kilby, whose job is to stem the controversy, said the final design by Allies & Morrison would not be done soon. "The Olympics are not the deadline," he said.
There is no need for a deadline.
Mosques are going up all over the infidel world, but no such reciprocity is permitted in Saudi Arabia, and infidels are widely persecuted elsewhere in the Islamic world, in Pakistan, for example.
Population growth is inversely tied to emancipation and education of women, which means that the Islamic world is demographically overwhelming the infidel world.
Many in the Islamic world view this situation as proof that Islam is the divinely-ordained vanguard.
You will be told that Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the world, but its growth is because of how women are treated in the Islamic world, not because Islam is winning in the market place of ideas. Quite the contrary, no competition is allowed in much of the Islamic world; if it were, the house of cards would collapse.
Hat tip to email tipsters.