CAIRO - Defying far-right anti-Muslim rants, Shrewsbury city council has finally approved a Muslims' request to build their first mosque in Shropshire in the West Midlands region of England, fulfilling a ten-year far dream.
We have waited nearly 10 years for a suitable building. This is a democracy and people have a right to object, but we would like to work with those people. George Miah, chairman of the Shropshire Bangladeshi Welfare Society, which put forward the application, told Shropshire Star on Friday, June 21.
We are deeply, deeply indebted to everyone who has supported us.
The decision was annonunced on Thursday after Shropshire Council voted in favor of the proposals to change the use of the town's former register office in Preston Street.
Members of the Shropshire Bangladeshi Welfare Society today said the planning committee's approval marked the end of a decade-long wait.
The society has been meeting at United Reformed Church on English Bridge for the last 10 years.
The decision comes despite the proposals for the former register office dividing public opinion.
Opposing the mosque plans, more than 500 letters have been sent to the authority as members of the English Defence League led a protest outside the planned centre.
Waiting for the decision, more than 60 people were present at the meeting to hear the decision.
I believe this application represents a continuation of the cultural identity of the area not a break, local resident Sue Challis said, winning a round of applause after she spoke in support of the application.
I see no reason not to approve it, she added.
Muslims vowed to cooperate for better relations with the mosque neighbors and the Shrewsbury community.
We will work with the local community and neighbors and want to invite everyone to the opening, Miah said.
The society's trustee Martin Kabir voiced hope, thanking all supporters.
We are very pleased and we would like to thank everyone who has supported the application, he said.
Britain is home to a sizable Muslim minority of nearly 2.7 million.
The mosque plans have generated controversy in Britain since they were unveiled in 1999.
The construction of the Muslim worship place was put on hold over growing opposition, which started as early as 1999.
In 2001, the group behind the mosque agreed that worship would only be on a temporary basis.
But opposition to the mosque grew after the 2005 attacks when two bombers were found to have prayed at a Tablighi mosque in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.
In 2010, the Newham council issued an enforcement notice against the mosque, but the Tablighi Jamaat group successfully appealed against it.
Critics say the group behind the mosque preaches separatism and segregation.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net