This is a cross post by Abdul Hamid al Manchesteri from The Spittoon
Plans to convert an old, disused city-centre warehouse into a mosque for the Ahmadiyya Muslim community in Walsall were rejected after more than 800 complaints were received.
A man protesting the mosque development plans was jubilant:
“It is a victory for the people, there are enough places of worship in the area. There was not a single person who supported it.
Something like that should be to serve the community but none of the local residents were going to benefit from it. It is great that common sense has prevailed.”
Another man couldn’t contain his joy:
“We are happy the right decision has been made. It would have been a public nusiance and is a relief.”
Surely these comments could not have been made by anyone other than the Islamophobic bigots from the BNP, SIOE or the EDL? Actually, they were not.
The quoted comments were by Zia-ul-Haq and the imam of the nearby Aisha Mosque, Imam Saeed, respectively. Both of whom are Muslims opposed to the Ahmadiyya mosque. Like them, most of the protestors opposed to the plans for the new mosque were local Muslims.
When the Swiss put the question of building minarets to a referendum, the outcry at the result of this instance of active democracy turned into an international sensation. The Swiss were rightly criticised for their overtly reactionary decision. The Dawn newspaper in Pakistan called the referendum an act of “extreme Islamophobia”. Khurshid Ahmad, vice president of Jamaat-e-Islami, said the action of the Swiss was “an effort to provoke Muslims and prompt a clash between Islam and the West”. As if the Jamaat-e-Islami ever needed a pretext to prompt a clash between Islam and the West.
Muslim protestors who opposed the proposed Ahmadiyya mosque in Walsall countered the plans on the grounds that it would cause “congestion”. And members of the Walsall Council committee seemed only too willing to hear their pleas. Scores of Muslims cheered in the council’s packed public chamber when the decision to ban the Ahmadiyya mosque was announced:
Members of the development control committee refused the scheme on a number of grounds including it being in an unsuitable location and would cause traffic congestion.
Had this been a Sunni mosque, this incident would have been seized by Bunglawala and friends and projected as a mini-Switzerland playing out in the “Islamophobic” badlands of Walsall. The Daily Mail would have been hard pressed disguising it’s glee at the chance of another photo-opportunity of angry Muslims. And it would have been entered as another serious provocation of Islamophobia by Bob Pitt at the pitifully sectarian Islamophobia-Watch.
But when it’s an Ahmaddiyya Mosque being refused planning permission, we have none of that. Instead we have images of happy Muslim community members, and cheers, jubilation and relief all round.
So to answer the question posed in the title: When is banning a mosque not Islamophobic?
Answer: When it’s an example of majoritarian Muslim sectarianism against an Islamic religious minority.
David T adds:
Inayat Bunglawala has also taken up cudgels in defence of the persecuted Ahmadi community in an outspoken CiF post:
The Ahmadis have faced persecution in Pakistan and other parts of the world for their beliefs. And at a time when far-right groups in the UK are becoming increasingly emboldened and are openly demonstrating – as we saw in Nottingham at the weekend – against Muslims, not to mention the Swiss decision last weekend, it is crucial that British Muslims work with other faith groups in wider society to uphold the freedom of religion and not unwittingly assist those who seek to undermine it.
Rather than demonstrating against Ahmadi plans to build a place of worship, British Muslims could do better by learning from the organisational skills of the Ahmadi community and the commitment and dedication shown by their members towards financially supporting the growth of their community.
Well said Inayat!
This is a welcome step forward for Inayat. Back in July, Inayat’s iEngage website was scathing about the Ahmadi’s letters of congratulation to all the successful Euro MEP candidates: including the BNP’s Andrew Glans:
It appears that Andrew Brons (pictured with Nick Griffin), a member of the racist British National Party who along with Griffin was elected as an MEP in the June 4th elections has received a letter of congratulations from a self-described ‘Muslim’ group. Can you guess which one?
A week after the BNP leader Nick Griffin said that ‘Islam is a cancer’ in an interview with Channel 4 News, a post on Andrew Brons’s website announces his receipt of a letter congratulating him on his victory from President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat in Sheffield, Mr Mohsin Abbas Rizwi.
Readers will not be surprised that the Ahmadiyya are unanimously regarded as a non-Muslim sect by all the main Islamic schools of thought across the world.
Therefore, to see Inayat is now defending this small group against sectarian bigotry is strongly to be applauded.
If Inayat continues at this rate, his politics and ours will have coalesced. We look forward to the day he joins Harry’s Place or The Spittoon as one of our bloggers.