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UK: Radical Megamosque Opposed by Muslims
by Irfan Al-Alawi
In 1996, British adherents of Tabligh i Jamaat [TJ], the Muslim preaching movement that reflects the fundamentalist Deobandi ideology of the Afghan and Pakistan Taliban, purchased a large tract of land in an industrial area of West Ham, in the London Borough of Newham. The property was formerly a chemical factory, but TJ proposed to erect a "mega-mosque" there, serving tens of thousands of worshippers, with extensive visitors' and conference centres, guest hostelries, a religious school, and parking space.
Little attention was paid to the "mega-mosque" project until Londoners, both Muslim and non-Muslim, were disturbed to learn that, if realized, the TJ complex would appear adjacent to the new Stadium built for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. The successful bid for London to host this year's Olympic Games came in 2005, almost a decade after TJ obtained the parcel on which it intended to place the "mega-mosque." The Stadium opened last month. The Games will commence on 27 July. Opposition to the "mega-mosque" has left its future unresolved.
Community representatives opposed to the "mega-mosque" have demanded enforcement of an agreement between TJ and Newham Council, announced in February 2011, and calling for TJ to submit a valid planning application for the construction within one year. Absent such documentation, TJ was supposed to remove its temporary structures and car-park paving.
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