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March 2007
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Stop Press

UK Plans to Block Giant London Mosque
London


The British government plans to block the establishment of the biggest mosque in Britain fearing that it would damage community relations or impede the preparations for the landmark Olympics. Ruth Kelly’s Whitehall department is expected to refuse planning permission for the London Markaz, which would be the biggest religious building in Britain with futuristic design features, with room for 70,000 worshippers.


Muslims want the £300 million (Dh2.1 billion) mosque, in east London to serve as a reception centre for athletes and fans from Islamic countries during the 2012 games.


The group behind the plans is Tablighi Jamaat, whose charitable trust, Anjuman-e-Islahul Muslimeen has owned the 18-acre site since 1996.


The move was confirmed by a senior government source who said there were fears that the giant mosque could damage community relations in the area, and added: “We are going to stop it. There are clear planning grounds on which the development could be turned down. It is so close to the main Olympic venues that it may interfere with preparations for the Games.”


Until now, it was thought that planners would rubber-stamp the proposed mosque, which was agreed in principle in a 2001 deal between Newham Council and Anjuman-e-Islahul Muslimeen. .


The construction scheme drawn up by the award-winning architects MYAA, envisaged a complex containing a garden, school and prayer space for tens of thousands of worship-pers.Twenty-five percent of the population in Newham, London’s most diverse borough, are Muslims.