A protest group has been criticised for a legal application to stop a £17.5 million mosque being built in Cambridge, in which they claimed it could be “a front for terrorism”.
Stephen Gash, of Stop Islamisation Of Europe (SIOE), and Sareeta Webra, founder of Sikhs Against Sharia (SAS), made an application for a Cambridge County Court injunction to prevent the mosque in Mill Road being built. The application calls for a “court injunction to be served against the Muslim Academic Trust for construction of a mega-mosque”.
The campaigners claim the planning consultation was not conducted “lawfully”. And the application adds: “It is well documented that many so-called Muslim charities are fronts for Islamic terrorism and that several of those cited are based in the United Kingdom.”
Cambridge MP Julian Huppert said such views had “no place in this city”. He told the News: “It both infuriates and saddens me that anyone would make such unpleasant and inaccurate allegations, attacking people just because of their religious beliefs. It is this type of naïvety and sweeping generalisation that stirs up intolerance and racial hatred. It has no place in this city.
“It’s a shame that these people who are so quick to condemn this project don’t put aside their prejudices and talk to people from the Muslim community and others who live near the existing Cambridge Mosque – they would discover that their claims are baseless.
“Cambridge is a richer place for its vibrant mix of nationalities which make our communities lively and interesting. Our new mosque will be a place where everyone is welcome regardless of their religious beliefs and I hope many will take the opportunity to visit. It looks like a beautiful building and will be a credit to Cambridge.”
Ms Webra claims building the mosque could see Cambridge “fall to Islam”. She said: “The English Reformation and foundation of the Church of England started in Cambridge and is celebrated with a plaque on King’s College. Cambridge is the last bastion of Christianity in England and must not fall to Islam, which the construction of the Mill Road mosque clearly intends for Cambridge.
“I am myself a believer in Jesus Christ the Saviour and have become so without in any way abandoning my Sikhism and love for the Khalsa. Cambridge University has immense respect across the world as an academic institution which is why Cambridge has been targeted as the location for what can only be described as a symbol of Islamic dominance.”
Stephen Gash, co-founder of SIOE, said: “Cambridge must not become a hub for funding international terrorism by having a triumphalist mosque dumped within it.”
The case was heard on January 17 and was not successful – but the group say they are now planning an appeal. Mr Gash said: “The injunction was struck out because the case wasn’t made strongly enough, but we have been granted leave to appeal.”
Planning permission was granted in 2012 for the three-storey domed building on the site of the former Robert Sayle warehouse. It will boast a prayer hall with capacity for 1,000 people, a café and teaching rooms, plus a library, a mortuary, and a large public garden.
But the plans have sparked controversy and the English Defence League has held a march and a rally in the city against the mosque. Vandals also targeted the building site after the Boston Marathon bombings. Graffiti artists daubed offensive messages on the hoardings.
A spokesman for the mosque said: “We are aware of the application but did not feel it was worthy of addressing.”
You can read the SIOE press release here.
Update: See Steven Rose, “Sikhs Against Sharia (SAS) – Sareeta Webra & anti-Muslim rhetoric”, Tell Mama, 2 February 2014