Campaigners opposed to a “super-mosque” being built next to the 2012 Olympic site today told of their delight after the scheme was blocked.
The Abbey Mills mosque and Islamic centre on a 7.3 hectare site in Stratford was to house 12,000 worshippers and would have been the biggest in Europe. But Newham council announced it will issue an eviction notice against the Islamist group behind it, Tablighi Jamaat, which has 80 million followers worldwide.
Alan Craig, a Christian Peoples’ Alliance councillor, said: “I’m delighted that the council has finally seen the light on this. It’s a key site for the local community that would have been lost if the mega-mosque had been built. It is a big step forward, but a lot could still happen.
“The authorities use planning terms, but they’ve come to see the misogynist nature of the group themselves and don’t want to give them that platform.”
Newham council issued enforcement notices against Tablighi Jamaat on Thursday. The council is also considering compulsory purchase of the land where a temporary mosque has been operating illegally for three years.
The mosque has faced massive opposition from the local community and religious groups. More than 48,000 people have signed a petition against the development since the sect unveiled its plans for the site in 2007. The strict movement “utterly refutes any links to terrorism or terrorists”, but intelligence agencies fear al Qaeda could be using membership of the movement as a cover-up for networking with extremists in America.
Tablighi Jamaat vowed to go ahead with the plans, but no work has been done on the project since last summer. The Muslim Council of Britain criticised the eviction, branding it “unfounded hostility and hysteria”. However, other Muslim groups welcomed the move. Minhaj-ul-Quran, which advises the Government on combating youth radicalisation, told The Times that a mosque should be a “community effort” – not the work of one group.
See also “Islamic sect’s plan to build mega-mosque next to Olympics site collapses”, Times, 18 January 2010