Monday, September 25, 2006
It will be the largest place of worship in Europe, a gigantic three-storey Islamic centre, with schools and other facilities, able to hold at least 40,000 worshippers and up to 70,000 if necessary.I have to admit that the imagery does not bother me. I have lived in Bow and Mile End and anyone who thinks the history of the East End is strictly of WASP Pearly Kings and Queens is delusional. The culinary geography of the routes west into the City tells of waves of new arrivals bringing first bagels and then baltis. What is concerning is who is behind the proposals:
It will be called the London Markaz and it is intended to be a significant Islamic landmark whose prominence and stature will be enhanced by its proximity to the Olympic site. When television viewers around the world see aerial views of the stadium during the opening ceremony in six years' time, the most prominent religious building in the camera shot will not be one of the city's iconic churches that have shaped the nation's history, such as St Paul's Cathedral or Westminster Abbey, but the mega-mosque.
Its backers are the Tablighi Jamaat, a missionary organisation that says it is non-political and peaceful. Yet a senior FBI anti-terrorism official has called it a recruiting ground for al-Qa'eda, and the French secret services described it as "an antechamber for fundamentalism". Its current European headquarters are in Dewsbury, home town of Mohammed Siddique Khan, leader of the July 7 suicide bombers, who attended the local mosque.I haven't made my mind up whether this is kerb-painting on a grand scale or a welcome sign of cultural confidence. That determination will be suspended until the memory fades of so-called Muslim areas.
BTW how's that Appeal going?
Lets see if they ask me to do it or a more 'experienced' member of Chambers - have only been on my feet since January.