Mosque hope divides Brentwood

A community has been left divided by controversial plans for a mosque in Brentwood.

The Gazette exclusively revealed plans by the Muslim community last week to purchase a commercial property for use as a permanent prayer and community centre at an unnamed location in Pilgrims Hatch. But while opposition is mounting against the plans, others have come forward to offer support to the Al Furqan Foundation – a 200-strong congregation which has outgrown the Sea Cadet Centre in King Edward Road, Brentwood, which it currently rents for Friday prayers.

Residents bombarded the Gazette website with comments vowing to fight the proposals, but secretary of the Foundation, Brentwood-born Mohammad Edoo urged:

“I think, or should I say hope, that the people of Brentwood are more intelligent than to make judgements based on the actions of a few radicals and sayings of people who claim to represent the whole Islamic faith. We welcome people who want to know more and our doors are not closed. Please don’t brand us before you know us.”

He admitted he was saddened by some of the negative reaction but added: “I know we have some very strong stereotypes to fight.”

But amid the negative response from the community, others have embraced the Foundation’s plight and backed their plans. Labour leader Mike Le-Surf, ward councillor for Brentwood South where Muslims currently meet, told the Gazette:

“I know the Muslim community has been in discussion with the council for some time but they’re not getting anywhere. I am happy to support and represent them within the council. I went down during Friday prayers and to be honest I wouldn’t have even known they were there until I opened the door. It’s not causing any problems for residents at all.”

A representative of the Hutton Community Centre also contacted the Gazette to offer their facility for use.

Evening Gazette, 16 July 2008

See last week’s issue for some of the comments by outraged local residents. For example:

“NO WAY. The residents of Pilgrims Hatch and neighbours must not sit back and let this happen. NO WAY.”

“I along with many others have already decided that we are not going to sit by and watch some leftie help to take over our beautiful neighbourhood … we will stand united. Leaflets will be distrubuted [sic] this week.”

“The arrival of a Mosque in Brentwood will be the day I leave this town. This country is becoming inundated with Muslim related features; British people in the majority are either quiet Christians or part of the secular masses, such a potent religion like Islam with everything which it entails does no good for the United Kingdom.”

“Once we have a mosque in Brentwood this will encourage more muslims to move here and then their shops etc.”

“… before you know it Brentwood will be every town that has gone to the muslim, Finsbury Park, Hackney, Ilford, East Ham… the list is endless…. Open your eyes.”

“I started in Bethnal Green, I moved to Canning Town, I moved to Plaistow, I moved to Barking, Then to Brentwood To get away from these people NO MORE MOVING! dont call me PREJUDICE because im NOT prejudging anyone because i have lived alongside these people They do not like me and I do not like them! We are from different worlds. We have different values, morals, and goals in life. They make no movement to adapt or respect the ENGLISH (a word people seem ashamed to use) way of life. We have to do everything to appease them. They will not move an inch…. STOP you have London Let us at least keep outside of the M25 We have a way of life that is worth defending STOP them now enough is enough. NO MOSQUE IN BRENTWOOD !!!!!!”