Canberra vetoes mosque

Islamic leaders are demanding an explanation from Foreign Minister Alexander Downer after plans for the Saudi Government to invest in the construction of an Adelaide mosque were vetoed by Canberra.

The Foreign Minister revealed yesterday that the Government objected to a proposal for Saudi cash to be injected into development of the new mosque, which is believed to be located at Park Holme in Adelaide’s southern suburbs. Mr Downer said federal authorities had also been investigating broad concerns on funding sourced from the Middle East after concerns that mosques could become breeding grounds for extremists. “Obviously we don’t want to see any extremist organisation penetrate into Australia,” he said.

But Ali Vachor, secretary of the Islamic Society of South Australia, which manages the Park Holme mosque, told The Australian the decision had halted construction of the building. Mr Vachor said a “great portion” of funding for the development was being sourced from overseas and had not been approved.

Construction was halted after the laying of a concrete slab and prayers are being conducted in a recreation room. Mr Vachor said yesterday the Islamic Society of South Australia would seek an urgent meeting with Mr Downer to determine the reasons behind the Government’s decision.

The Australian, 9 January 2006