Facebook campaign for Manx mosque faces opposition

An internet group set up by the Island’s Muslim community has sparked fiercely anti-Islamic opposition. The group on social networking site Facebook, outlining their campaign for a new mosque to replace the converted garage used at present, has attracted almost 100 members.

But 360 people have joined an opposition group claiming to be non-racist but carrying comments such as: “Thay (sic) can **** right off!!!!!! thay come over and don’t respect are (sic) way of life. Thay belive (sic) if you are not a muslam (sic) you should die wots (sic) all that about!!! thay have one (a mosque) as it is so why do thay need a new one **** off i say !!!”

The creator of the group “New Mosque for Isle of Man” explains the Muslim community, thought to number around 70, has been using a small converted garage as a mosque for more than 20 years. He claims Islamic worshippers are “at a disadvantage” as the mosque is too small to hold them all for Jumuah salah, a Friday afternoon prayer considered the most important of the week.

Meanwhile, contributors to the opposition group “No to Mosque in the Isle of Man” urge members to “keep your Island free of the alien invaders”. One member accuses the Island’s Muslims of “taking education, jobs and a better way of life and throwing it back in our faces”. Another writes: “You can’t say you are Muslim and not expect suspicion from the world … you have earned it.”

Those who have left messages condemning such comments are described as “white traitors”. “Wake up and grow some loyalty to your own people, your own country, your own race, your own identity as White British,” one member writes. “Stop falling over yourself to condemn your own people all so a horde of foreign, anti-British Muslims can colonise the Isle of Man.”

One Island-based Muslim writes: “I don’t see why a very small group of people going to worship in their own time, not bothering anyone else, seems so bad to people? The last 20 years is proof that Islam on the Isle of Man is not a negative thing and that it has never affected anything on the Island in a bad way.

“The only difference now is that the mosque is no longer big enough and it is against health and safety regulations for 70 people to pray in a building that only holds 40. The Muslims on the Isle of Man have never bothered anyone before. What makes people think that a slightly bigger place to worship is going to damage the Isle of Man?”

A spokesman for the Muslim community, responding to an interview request from the Examiner, said members felt it “probably isn’t the best course of action at this point in time”.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Anne Craine has spoken of her disappointment at students’ involvement in the “Keep the Isle of Man White & Free from Foreigners” site.

“I think it’s very disappointing that a few individuals with strongly held views have brought the school population of our Island in to disrepute through their ill-chosen comments,” she said. “I was very heartened to see that comments were subsequently posted by young people who found the original comments deplorable.

“Whilst young people may have been involved in this unfortunate incident, I would like to emphasise that none of it took place in any of our schools on any of our school computers but it is clearly something that has taken place outside and possibly from their own home computers.

“I don’t think it reflects the majority view of our young people, who are fine, upstanding young citizens that we can be proud of.”

Mrs Craine said the Department of Education tries to promote tolerance through physical, health and social education lessons in schools.

Isle of Man Today, 8 May 2009