Two Facebook pages waging a campaign against a proposed mosque in Kalgoorlie-Boulder have attracted more than 800 “likes” as the local council prepares to debate the item next month.
A planning application to build a place of public worship at 12 Park Street in the Kalgoorlie suburb of Williamstown was lodged by the Kalgoorlie Islamic Community Centre on June 3.
While the application has not yet gone before councillors, the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder has directly contacted surrounding homes and businesses and encouraged them to submit written feedback before close of business on Monday.
A Facebook page, “Stop the mosque in Kalgoorlie“, was created on June 25 and has attracted 735 members in just five days. It states: “Help us stop the mosque! This page is for practical support to the residents of Kalgoorlie opposing the Mosque. No Islamic debate or trolls tolerated here.”
Many of the posts featured on the page link to anti-Islam article and websites, and the page appears to hold a close association to an eastern states Facebook group, “Stop the mosque in Bendigo”. Far-right opponents of the planned Bendigo mosque recently received a donation of $10,000 to help fund their campaign.
The page has also set up a petition on change.org, calling on the council and local politicians, including Nationals MLA Wendy Duncan and Liberal MLA Graham Jacobs, to block the application. The petition, which has 583 signatures, states that “the council should outright DENY Muslims to build a mosque in Kalgoorlie Boulder to the very end”. The vast majority of signatures come from outside the Kalgoorlie region and even includes signatures from the US.
A second Facebook page, Stop the mosque in Kalgoorlie Boulder, is now also campaigning against the mosque. Created on June 24, the page has 131 “likes” and has shared links with the Patriot Defence League Australia – Eastern Victoria Charter, a group that bills itself as nation-wide “pro Australia” club, committed to protecting Australia from “Islamization”.
City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder CEO Don Burnett said the item would be put before council in July and, until then, it would be treated as a normal council item. “This will be dealt with on planning issues, we don’t consider commercial, religious or moral submissions,” he said. “It’s just a normal council item to us, a lot of stuff that’s been stirred up is not actually Kalgoorlie stuff, councillors aren’t getting any real comment back from local people.”
If the proposed mosque goes ahead, it will be situated close to several churches including Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, Goldfields Family Church, Goldfields Alliance Church and St Mary’s Catholic Church.
A mosque was opened earlier this month in the Perth suburb of Southern River after a five-year battle.
Fairfax Media is attempting to speak to a representative of the mosque, while the administrator of the “stop the mosque in Kalgoorlie” Facebook page responded to a request for an interview on Monday night, saying “Will get back to you on that”.
Update: See also “‘Stop the Mosque in Kalgoorlie’ Facebook page branded ‘extremely offensive’”, Perth Now, 1 July 2014
Update 2: See “Mosque debate attracts balance”, Everything Kalgoorlie-Boulder, 4 July 2014