Cross community campaigners for social cohesion in Newham have condemned the decision of a government planning inspector to allow Islamic group, Tablighi Jamaat, permission to breach planning laws. In a ruling, the inspector authorised the radical group to continue using the current temporary mosque on the site of their proposed Olympic mega-mosque at West Ham. Local opposition association Newham Concern say the decision will provide succour to Islamic radicals and will further boost the capital's reputation as "Londonistan".
“For years Tablighi Jamaat have deliberately flouted building regulations and planning laws”, said Alan Craig, Newham Concern’s campaign director and former leader of the Opposition on Newham Council for the Christian Peoples Alliance party:
“After much delay and procrastination Newham Council at last took the right action and told them to move off site. But the Planning Inspector has overturned this and apparently decided that illegality pays. They can now stay on site with temporary planning permission for a further two years.“
Temporary planning permission was granted in 2001, but expired in 2006, since when the group have continued to use the site. Newham Council had accepted local wishes for the temporary facility, which consists of pre-fabricated and demountable buildings, to be shut down amid fears over traffic levels, land contamination and visual impact.
But in a decision notice, planning inspector Graham Dudley granted Tabliqi Jamaat’s request to remain, despite admitting harm would be caused to the area and there being a history of non-compliance with planning guidelines. He said the “substantial need” for religious facilities and the scarcity of land and finances for new community buildings outweighed the negative factors.
“This is ominous for the future development of this key site. It is unjust, as the rest of us are expected to act within the law of the land or we get penalised”, said Alan Craig. “And it is divisive as it puts Tablighi Jamaat in a privileged protected position. Nonetheless our campaign will continue and we will up our opposition. East London is a great place to live and for the sake of our tolerant diverse east London communities, we cannot allow their massive monument to separatism, bigotry and misogyny to be constructed.”
At the public inquiry, Newham Concern called two Muslim experts as specialist witnesses to highlight the fundamentalist and socially harmful nature of the sect. Dr Taj Hargey of the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford publicly criticised TJ for its promotion of hard-line separatism and intolerance.Tehmina Kazi of British Muslims for Secular Democracy testified to TJ’s misogyny and refusal to open their current facilities to women.