Mosque inquiry will cost taxpayers £100k

Taxpayers will pick up a $100,000 bill for the planning inquiry which resurrected plans for a Black Country mosque, it has been revealed. The cost of the four-day hearing will be met by Dudley Council after the Government’s planning inspectorate overturned its decision to reject the $18 million proposal. The authority was forced to hire security staff to police the summit at the inspector’s request – but will not receive a penny from Whitehall to cover costs. The decision to allow the appeal for the project in Hall Street, Dudley, was this week announced after the public inquiry in June. Dudley Council boss David Caunt described the decision as a “sad day” for local democracy saying it ignored the 22,000 people who signed a petition in opposition. And Councillor Caunt said that the $100,000 bill rubbed salt in the wound. “I’m very frustrated that a one man government-appointed judge and jury can turn up, listen to the arguments for four days and drive around the borough before coming to the conclusion that he knows better than the locals. The councillor added: “And then we have to pick up the bill for it.

Islam emerges choicest religion in Europe / In UK alone, 50,000 enter the fold every year

In a recent interview with the BBC, British Home Secretary Jackoi Smith made some interesting observations about the rapid spread of Islam in Europe. According to Smith, around 50,000 Britishers are converting to Islam each year and since 2001, four lakh Britishers have converted to Islam. He said the Muslim population in Britain has reached 20 lakh and followers of Islam are now the second biggest population in Britain after Christians. He even suggested setting up an Islamic University in Britain given the overwhelming population of the Muslims in that country. The momentum and intensity with which Islam is spreading in the West has puzzled the policy makers, religious scholars, researchers and media there. The conversions have especially gained unimaginable momentum after 9/11. Most of the researchers believe that the fast erosion of the religious and cultural values in the Western societies is pushing its people towards Islam that offers a more comprehensive, well-knit and value-oriented cultural, social and family structure. According to a recent report in the prestigious Time magazine, hundreds of new mosques are coming up in the West and most of the European cities now get to hear Azan (call for prayer) five times a day. In Rome a grand mosque is coming up at a whopping cost of $3 crore for which the land has been donated by the local government.

Canada’s Largest Mosque Opens in Calgary, Alberta

Canada’s newest and largest mosque opened on July 5th in Calgary and was praised by Prime Minister Stephen Harper as an architectural treasure which demonstrated the true and benevolent face of Islam. The mosque was built by the Ahmadiyya community, a Muslim sect persecuted in some countries because of their differing understanding of the line of prophets. Harper added that this community knows first-hand what it is to experience persecution and discrimination based on your religious beliefs. Mr. Harper and Liberal Leader Stephane Dion were among the hundreds (National Post listed 5000 present) who attended the opening, alongside the group’s global spiritual leader, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad. The mosque complex is more than 4300 m2 and includes a community centre, classrooms, office space, kitchen, dining room, children’s area and a multi-purpose hall. It cost nearly $15 million CAD to build, with 8 million coming from local Calgarians. Ahmadiyya from around Canada also chipped in. Mr. Dion stated that Canada will show the world that Muslim communities can flourish in a secular state like ours.

Muslim-friendly flats opened

New flats for elderly people have opened in Bristol – with toilets that do not face Mecca. The Muslim-friendly Very Sheltered Housing (VSH) scheme in Lincoln Street, Lawrence Hill, cost more than _6 million, has 55 bedrooms and was put up by the city council and the Guinness Trust on the site of the former Wainbrook elderly persons’ home. It includes 19 flats suitable for “tenants from the Muslim community” following local consultation. A council spokesman said: “The toilets in these flats are orientated so that the user doesn’t face Mecca. “Beds are placed so that feet are facing south east and not north west. “There is a door between the kitchen and living room plus extra ventilation in the kitchen to stop smells escaping. “And plumbing has been carried out to allow for the addition of a bidet or a shower head to allow the washing of the toilet bowl.” The development is the seventh VSH scheme to open in the city. Aashyana Housing Association chief executive, Saeed Anwar, said at the time: “We didn’t need to consult with the Muslim community about the toilets. We knew this would be pleasing to them if the toilets were not facing Mecca. It didn’t mean any extra cost to us – it was just a question of making sure they were not facing south east.”

German State Plans Center For Islamic-Christian Dialogue

Prime Minister Christian Wulff of Lowez Saxony – a federal state of Germany, said he is planning to establish a Centre for Islamic-Christian Dialogue in the city of Osanabruck, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported Tuesday. Wulff from the Democratic Christian Party said that the Centre will be a major one in Germany and the neighbouring European countries. The Centre will organise European and international conferences with the participation of scholars from the two religions in addition to scientists in medicine, astronomy and other human sciences. Wulff pointed out that the dialogue should be a comprehensive dialogue and not confined to the religious sciences and differences between the two religions. The cost of the Centre is expected to amount to about two million Euros.

Mosque with 25-metre minarets to be constructed in Marseille

One of the largest mosques in France will soon find a home in the southern port city of Marseille, serving over 2,000 worshippers. The city’s mayor symbolically handed over the mosque’s key to Nordine Cheikh, commencing the start of renovation initiative. The mosque is expected to cost around eight million euro. Cheikh, the president of the association of the Great Mosque, expects that it will be ready to open in 2010. About one quarter of the city’s 800,000 residents are Muslims, of which around 40,000 are believed to be actively practicing – mostly with backgrounds veined in Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco. There are already about 60 mosques in the city, though most of these are situated in old buildings, shops, and warehouses.

Terrorism: European attacks ‘inevitable’ as al Qaeda influence spreads, say experts

European countries can expect more terrorist attacks in future because of continuing disaffection among Muslims and the low cost of producing bombs, according to international experts. Bob Ayers, associate fellow for international security at London-based thinktank, Chatham House, told Adnkronos International (AKI) on Friday, while police successfully foiled the planned terrorist attack in Germany last month, more attacks were inevitable.

Should we demolish churches?

Most of the nation’s churches and buildings of worship are owned by state and local authorities; they are also responsible for the costs of maintaining them. The poor conditions of many of these properties have led authorities to consider demolition. Though the fate of one church in Valanjour (Maine-et-Loire) will not officially be decided until the March 2008 election, the city’s mayor is determined to demolish it. “We have 3 churches for 2,000 inhabitants; In a year, the cost to maintain one building is 12,000 euros. The city can’t afford to maintain the building”, said Bernard Briodeau. Despite the opposition by a significant portion of his constituency, the representative, who admits to face “a difficult choice,” affirms he is not backing off. “I understand the symbolic weight of this place; my own children have been baptized there. But let’s stop talking about heritage”.

Muslims Donate for Hungry Americans

By Abderrazak Mrabet RALEIGH, North Carolina – The Muslim American Society (MAS) has launched a nationwide campaign to encourage Muslims to donate food and money to help feed fellow hungry Americans, regardless of their faith. “It’s our way of showing the community that we care about everyone and that Allah loves everyone, Muslims and non-Muslims,” Allyson Swelam, the head of the outreach committee in MAS Raleigh chapter, told Muslims are encouraged to donate canned food, nonperishable items as well as money to provide fresh meat. Donation boxes were made available at local mosques and Islamic schools. “All donations are going directly to low income people who live under the poverty line,” said Allyson. She asserted that the response of the Muslim community was good, especially that this is the first time to conduct such a campaign. “I think this is a good start and we already met our target as far as the cost of the meat that we pre-ordered.”

Switzerland: Swiss reject plans for Major Islamic Center in Capital

Islamic groups said they were disappointed Saturday that plans to build one of the biggest Muslim cultural centers in Europe were rejected by Swiss planners in Bern. The center, to include a mosque, a museum, offices and a four-star hotel, had been proposed by a Bern-based Islamic coordination group, Umma, for the site of a former abattoir at a cost of up to 80 million Swiss francs (65 million dollars). The authorities said they had earmarked the site for a uses other than religious and saw no other suitable location for the project in Bern, according to the Swiss wire service ATS. Umma said in a statement they noted the decision with “regret.” The move comes in the midst of a row over minarets in Switzerland where 350,000 Muslims have settled. A campaign, spearheaded by right-wing politicians, has been launched to try to ban further construction of the towers at mosques claiming they are a political rather than religious symbol and breach Swiss laws. Only two mosques in Zurich and Geneva have a minaret.