Muslim leaders have been granted an appeal against the High Court’s decision to throw out plans for a new mosque – meaning the long-running dispute is heading back to the courtroom. It comes just weeks after council chiefs in Dudley thought they had reached a conclusion to the seven-year wrangle.
The proposals for a mosque on land in Hall Street were rejected at a hearing in April, meaning the plot of land, which Dudley Muslim Association has owned since 2005, must now be sold back to the council. It had argued the land should have been developed by a 2008 deadline.
Council bosses managed to get many of the group’s arguments for stopping the buy-back plan thrown out by judges at a court hearing in November. But the association submitted an amended defence, which was rejected.
Association chairman Dr Kurshid Ahmed today confirmed the dispute will go back before the High Court after officials gave them the go-ahead to appeal. They had already submitted an application and were waiting for a decision. He said: “We do not know a timescale yet – it depends on when it is processed and the court lists it. But the appeal has been granted.”
Dr Ahmed has previously said he would talk to the council about potential alternative sites. But he insisted the Muslim Association had not had the opportunity to put across its full arguments during the court case.
Typical of Dudley Council’s attitude was the planning committee’srejection of the proposed mosque and community centre on the grounds that, as one councillor stated, it would be an “alien feature”. This led Kurshid Ahmed to describe the decision as “driven by the influence of bigotry, racism and Islamophobia”.
Both the BNP and UKIP campaigned fiercely against Dudley Muslim Association’s plan from the beginning. They were later joined by the English Defence League, who rioted, staged a rooftop protest and called for the mosque to be bombed. The local Tories made their own contribution to the campaign by issuing an election leaflet claiming that voting Conservative was the only way to stop the mosque.