CAIRO - The Muslim community celebrations in Chipping Norton town in England's south east district of West Oxfordshire for their first mosque came to an end after being shocked by the landlord's decision to pull out of the deal citing repeated phone threats.
It is absolutely shocking, Tahirul Hasan, a Chipping Norton town councillor, told The Oxford Times on Saturday, February 9.
I did not expect this from our local community.
The town's Muslim community had been celebrating after they won permission to open the permanent home last Monday.
It followed a long campaign by Chipping Norton town councilor Tahirul Hasan and other members of west Oxfordshire's Islamic community to find a permanent home for their daily prayers.
However, they were shocked after the elderly landlord decided to pull out of the deal, referring to repeated phone calls threatening him.
Someone rang up and said if you go ahead with the mosque then it will get very hot. They were saying they would burn it down, 79-year-old landlord Georg Wissinter said.
I have got people in the flat above [the proposed mosque]. I cannot take the risk.
Wissinter said he had only received one phone call but word of mouth around the town suggested the sentiment was more widespread.
There is more than one person, he said.
The landlord, a German who has been living in the town over the past 35 years, said he has been facing a victim of racists himself, accusing him repeatedly of being a Nazi.
I did expect something to happen because of the application. But I did not expect them to want to burn it down.
Spokesman Craig Evry said Thames Valley Police was investigating the phone call.
No formal complaint has been made to police but the incident is being treated as a potential criminal offence, he said.
Anti-mosque opposition was not new in the West Oxfordshire District Council, which granted planning permission for the mosque.
Before giving the permission, the council received 28 letters of objections to the scheme and two in support.
Chipping Norton is the quintessential English market town and as such it is attractive to tourists and visitors and most who live here, one objector said.
I would wish this English character to be preserved.
Another objector said: It will totally spoil the place.
These campaigns were shocking to the Muslim community.
I am not only working for the Muslim community, I am working for the local community, Hasan said he was talking to the Muslim community to decide what to do next.
I have lived here for 24 years and I am a councillor and a member of the Neighbourhood Action Group.
Chipping Norton's Muslim community currently worships at the Town Hall on Fridays.
The 2011 Census said Chipping Norton had 34 Muslims, of a population of 6,337.
Britain is home to a sizable Muslim minority of nearly 2.5 million.
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.