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Aussie Mosque Sparks “Fanatics” Row

Published: 17/01/2013 05:18:10 PM GMT
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CAIRO - A row has been developing in Australia's second most populous state over the planned expansion of a mosque, with some terming the Muslim worship place as a breeding ground for fanatics.“The meaning of mosque is sub (more)

CAIRO - A row has been developing in Australia's second most populous state over the planned expansion of a mosque, with some terming the Muslim worship place as a breeding ground for fanatics.

“The meaning of mosque is submission, so when Islam invades European countries and they dominate, the first thing they do is build the mosque,” the Uniting Church minister of the Monash Congregation, the Reverend Hoon You, told The Age on Tuesday, January 15.

“We do not know what the Muslim community is planning, so we would love to hear more on their reasons for developing the mosque, instead of their prayer room, which they already have.”

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Muslims plan to renovate and expand a mosque near Monash University in Melbourne's eastern suburbs.

But opponents say the mosque and the call for prayers (Adhan) would cause disturbance to residents.

“In effect a mosque is a training ground for religious moderates at one end of the scale and religious fanatics at the other end,” Richard Farell, the chairman of the Monash Uniting Church congregation, has said in a letter to the Monash City Council.

“Such opinions in extreme cases can promote jihad and the destruction of the infidel right up to teaching about the assassination and bombing of Christian and other establishments.”

The building of mosques has been facing growing public opposition in several Western countries.

In the United States, at least 35 mosque projects have found foes, who battle to stop them from seeing light citing different pretexts, including traffic concerns and fear of terrorism.

Building mosques was also meeting opposition in several European countries as France, Italy and Spain.

In Switzerland, Swiss voters supported a referendum to ban the building of mosque minarets in the country.

Muslim Rituals

But Muslims defended their plans to expand the mosque to fulfil their growing religious duties.

“For Muslims, prayers are important and we need a place to pray,” said Mohamed Mohideen, president of the Islamic Association of Monash Mosque.

He said the mosque, which is owned by Monash University, was too small to meet the growing numbers of worshippers, including international students and nearby residents.

“The university has been kind enough to provide us with a premises for 20 years, and now it is time to look at redeveloping that to make sure it is more comfortable.”

Many Australians also dismissed the accusations that the mosque was a breeding ground for fanatics.

The Reverend Dr. Mark Lawrence, the general secretary of the Uniting Church's Victoria-Tasmania Synod, said the comments were “extremely unfortunate” and did not speak for the overall church.

He said the suggestion the facility could be “a training ground for … religious fanatics” went against the church's strong desire to interact with all faiths in a respectful manner.

Muslims, who have been in Australia for more than 200 years, make up 1.7 percent of its 20-million population. Islam is the country's second largest religion after Christianity.

In post 9/11 Australia, Muslims have been haunted with suspicion and have had their patriotism questioned.

A 2007 poll taken by the Issues Deliberation Australia (IDA) think-tank found that Australians basically see Islam as a threat to the Australian way of life.A recent governmental report revealed that Muslims are facing deep-seated Islamophobia and race-based treatment like never before.

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