Christianity and Islam race for prominence at Olympic Park

The Olympics is meant to promote solidarity – but the 2012 Games has become a question of faith for some in East London as Christianity and Islam vie to become the most visible religion around the 500-acre park. Muslim leaders have begun a charm offensive with residents in the borough of Newham over controversial plans to build a 12,000-capacity “super-mosque” on the edge of the Olympic Park. Trustees of the Abbey Mills Mosque conducted tours of the 18-acre site in West Ham last week to show they had “nothing to hide”, say their Westminster lobbyists. The tours are a prelude to a summer exhibition of plans for the _75 million mosque designed by architects Allies and Morrison, whose buildings include the Royal Observatory and the Royal Festival Hall. The mosque is likely to be Europe’s largest and four-times the size of Britain’s largest cathedral. Their proposal, which includes a 500-place Islamic school, has met with resistance from Christians, whose plans for an _80 million “mega-church” in neighbouring Hackney were rejected by planning officials last month. The Kingsway International Christian Centre, which claims to be the fastest-growing church in western Europe, wanted to build a church capable of holding 8,000 people – or five times the size of Westminster Abbey – after it was evicted from its home on the Olympic site.