• Gov’t rejects appeal to build “mega mosque” in London

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    LONDON: Plans for a mosque here with a floor space three times the size of the city’s St. Paul’s Cathedral were rejected yet again Thursday by the British government.

    Communities and Local Government Secretary Greg Clark has refused an appeal to allow what has been called a “mega mosque” from being built in the London borough of Newham.

    Clark also ruled that a smaller temporary place of worship for Muslims currently in use on the site of the proposed “mega mosque” would have to close within three months.

    A public inquiry was ordered after London’s Newham Council rejected plans for a mosque, spanning almost 30,000 square meters on the site in West Ham.

    The plans for the mega mosque on what is called the Abbey Mills Riverine Center were put forward by the Anjuman-E-Islahul-Muslimeen Trust and would have catered to 9,000 worshipers.

    The project generated support and opposition, with the community group Newham People’s Alliance supporting the plans, and the MegaMosqueNoThanks campaign fighting the proposals.

    The scheme also included a segregated space for nearly 2,000 women, a library, dining hall, visitors’ center, and eight flats for imams and guests, along with tennis courts, football pitches, a garden, and a riverside walk.

    A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said in a statement Thursday: “Ministers have today dismissed appeals on the refusal of planning permission for a mosque in the London borough of Newham. The decision was based on concerns that include local housing provision and conflict with the council’s local plan for the borough.”

    The statement added the appellants now have three months to comply with an enforcement notice which requires them to remove their temporary mosque from the site.

    A planning inspector who conducted a public inquiry last year into the plans recommended that the temporary mosque should be allowed to remain for a further two years, but the government rejected this today, saying it could delay development aspirations for the wider area.

    The Anjuman-E-Islahul-Muslimeen Trust is the charitable arm of international grassroots Muslim movement Tablighi Jamaat founded in 1926 in India. The British branch was founded in East London in 1944. The organization describes itself as the largest peaceful Muslim movement in the world.

    The trust said it wanted a building of sufficient capacity to accommodate the prayer needs of an estimated 9,000 attendees, “with a building of sufficient stature and grace, as a beacon of excellence.” PNA/Xinhua

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