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Mega-Mosque? No Thanks!

This is a guest post by Cllr Alan Craig, Leader, Christian Peoples Alliance group, Newham Council

We will publish Tablighi Jamaat’s case for a the proposed mosque, tomorrow.

This year will see renewed controversy over the flagship mega-mosque planned for West Ham, close to the 2012 London Olympic stadium. Later this month, as part of the mosque’s PR-led charm offensive amongst opinion-formers, local MP Lyn Brown is hosting a House of Commons meeting for the mosque elders to promote their venture to Newham community/church leaders.

And the PR advisers for the project, Indigo, recently announced that the much-delayed mosque master plan will be published by mid-year.

What do we know already about the plan? They’ve told us the mosque will have a capacity of 12,000 which will make it the largest in Europe, as well as an Islamic boy’s school, a conference centre and accommodation.

There are real planning issues relating to contamination, traffic and land-use. But current objections relate rather to the narrow Deobandi Islamic sect behind the proposals, Tablighi Jamaat (TJ), which in recent decades has grown from its origins in 1920s India into the largest Muslim missionary movement anywhere.

It currently has 80 million followers worldwide and TJ intend this landmark mosque to be a new international headquarters, their key platform for further global expansion.

The organisation is secretive, sinuous and ambitious, and has access to deep pockets. It claims to be peaceable and non-political – a sort of Islamic Methodist Church. While the personal reserve and piety of most followers are not in question, these organisational claims are not the full story – an issue Dame Pauline Neville-Jones and Patrick Mercer MP rightly have raised.

Should we allow TJ to build this prestigious national platform? Despite their recent (Indigo-tutored) protestations of inclusivity and openness, their anti-social ideology is hostile to the values of our multi-cultural capital and incompatible with 21st century Britain.

For instance, TJ claims to have a high view of women; they are ‘as precious as silver and gold’ and it is through women at home that pure Islam is passed onto the younger generation.

But that’s the point. Women are ‘precious’ chattels who are confined and controlled by their husbands (or fathers) as their masters. Thanawi’s Heavenly Ornaments, which is prescribed TJ reading, teaches that a wife is to follow her husband’s will and whims in all things, to seek his permission on all issues, and to call day night if he does.

She should stay at home. ‘The moment she steps out of the house,’ says TJ ideologue Bulandshahri, ‘the devil himself begins to accompany her.’ She should only emerge when accompanied by a male relative and hidden in strict purdah within a veiled black burkha.

Surely London cannot offer a high-profile platform to dangerous nonsense like this. And regrettably there is more, much more, to come.