CAIRO - Rejecting inflammatory calls by anti-Muslim party, British residents in Shropshire County on the Welsh border have voiced their support for turning a 19th century former Presbyterian Church in the town into an Islamic center.
It's a very good thing that at long last Muslims will get their own religious and social centre in Oswestry, Iris Gordijn told The Shropshire Star on Friday, December 14.
I fully support this application.
Controversy started after the Oswestry Muslim Society applied for planning permission to change the use of the 19th century former Presbyterian Church in the town into a center for Muslim prayers.
Later on, the far-right British National Party (BNP) urged people to write to Shropshire Council to object to the plans for the building, which is currently occupied by a furniture business.
Member of the far right party warned that they will stage numerous days of action' over plans to create the new prayer center.
The report to Shropshire Council says the original organ would be kept intact and the upstairs at the back of the building would be made into a flat.
Shropshire Council hopes to determine the bid by January 11.
In Britain, far-right groups like the English Defence League (EDL) and the British National Party (BNP) have been playing the card of immigration to stoke sentiment against Muslims and immigrants.
In November 2010, British police warned that the anti-Muslim demonstration by the EDL fuel extremism and harm social cohesion in Britain.
British Muslims, estimated at nearly two million, have been in the eye of storm since the 7/7 attacks.
A Financial Times opinion poll showed that Britain is the most suspicious nation about Muslims.
A poll of the Evening Standard found that a sizable section of London residents harbor negative opinions about Muslims.
Rejecting BNP calls, nearly 30 people have given their support to the plans with just five objections received.
Bringing an unused building back into use can only be good thing for the town, Andrew Meredith, another supporter, said.
The fact that it is to be used as a Muslim Centre is immaterial.
Creating their own centre would end a 10-year search to find a religious home for the Muslim community in the town.
They currently meet at Eastern Oswestry Community Centre for prayers every Friday afternoon and also for major religious events such as Ramadan and `Eid.
For the past 10 years or so we have tried to get a place to worship in the area, George Miah, chief adviser of Oswestry Muslim Society, said.
It could be a place for sharing viewpoints, cultural differences and understanding people.
Our children and female members can get together and invite the community for a cup of tea and to share our views.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net