Muslim prayer centre should build bridges

The Shropshire Star has published an excellent comment piece condemning the racist backlash against the proposal to convert a disused former register office in Shrewsbury into a prayer centre (which has already resulted in two arrests).

“If they want 2 “practise” there (sic) religion y not do it in there (sic) own country n not ruin ours.”

“I find muslims intimidating…Walking round with things round there (sic) head and face..just intimidating.”

Bradford, 2001?

No. Sadly, this is Shrewsbury, 2013.

An application to turn a former register office building into a Muslim prayer centre has revealed an ugly underbelly to our picturesque little town.

No sooner was the application revealed than a Facebook page was set up to object to it. The objections were never made clear, but the message board soon became a forum for those wishing to spew their vile, racist views.

“Shrewsbury is a quiet town and does not want muslims from telford wolverhampton and birmingham and all over the u.k coming to spoil it! Our countries (sic) national religion is christianity (sic), that’s the only reason we need not to build one! If they want to pray go back (expletive deleted) home.”


It is interesting to note that these people – many of whom claim to be ‘British and proud’ – appear to struggle with the basics of the English language.

One of my favourite (if that’s the right word) comments came on the Shropshire Star website. Naturally, it started with the phrase “I’m not being racist, but…”

It went on: “There is no Muslim community here and the ones that are here go to Birmingham to worship…”

Sorry? There is NO Muslim community in Shrewsbury. But the ones that are here…


And given that Muslims observe five formal prayers each day, that’s putting a heck of a lot of pressure on their West Midlands Travel Card.

The facts are these: Shropshire Council wanted rid of the building, which has a history of a place of worship. The Shropshire Bangladesh Welfare Society wanted it and paid the asking price.

I wonder how many of the objectors to the centre were even aware there was a Shropshire Bangladesh Welfare Society? I’d wager none. So what makes any of them think a group which has never even crossed their radar suddenly poses a threat to their very existence?


Nothing more, nothing less.

Fortunately, it seems Shrewsbury also has a vocal majority. There is also a pro-prayer centre Facebook page. And it has more members than the other one. The comments are calm, considered and, for the most part, have the words spelled correctly.

This application will not succeed or fall on the views of the racists. It will be considered on planning matters alone. The place used to be a register office. It has been a busy place. There is no reason at all that I can see that it shouldn’t be used for a centre which will only have around 50 people at peak times.

One can only hope that if it is approved, as well as a new community centre it builds a few bridges.