CAIRO - Overcoming a vicious campaign against Islam and Muslims, jubilant Muslims celebrated the approval to construct a new mosque in Australia's most populous city of Melbourne, urging neighbors to follow Jesus' precept and love thy neighbor.
That's what we plan to do, Sherene Hassan, spokeswoman for the applicants, was cited by The Age newspaper on Tuesday, March 12.
But we haven't felt much love from this group.
Meeting today, Casey Council planning committee has given the nod to constructing the new mosque.
Approved by 9-1 vote, councilors backed an officer's report recommending a permit, against a background of stiff objection from neighbors and others.
The Muslim worship place, to be constructed next to the church and headquarters of Catch the Fire Ministries, is expected to be built within weeks.
Over the past weeks, Muslims have been facing a growing opposition to their plans for new mosque and community center in Green Street, Doveton.
More than 1900 signatures and 30 letters objecting to the $2.5 million Afghan Mosque Project Committee development were submitted to the council in a bid to block support for a permit.
Opponents, including Daniel Nalliah of the anti-Islam Rise Up Australia Party, argue that the mosque would cause noise pollution and traffic jams, accusing Muslims of preaching hatred.
It is out of character with the neighborhood, Councilor Rosalie Crestani, who voted against the mosque, said.
I believe there will be problems enforcing permit conditions, especially linked to crowd numbers and parking in streets, she said.
The mosque committee wanted to relocate from Photinia St and avoid complaints about car parking, crowds and noise there.
Director of Archivision, Louie Asiaee, also supported the permit application, saying an industrial zone was chosen in a bid to avoid complaints of the type experienced in Photinia St.
Despite vocal opposition to the mosque, the planning committee's voting showed a majority support for the new mosque.
Councilor Wayne Smith said he believed as many people favored the mosque going ahead.
But those opposed have been more vocal, he said.
I accept all the views I have heard, but we must be bound by planning laws and I believe that means supporting issue of a permit in this case.
However, he did not expect the mosque opposition to accept the decision to approve the new mosque.
This issue will probably go to Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for resolution, Cr Smith said.
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.
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.