Ely cathedral minister condemns anti-Muslim campaign over prayer centre plan

A minister at Ely Cathedral has voiced his concerns over people’s attitude towards Muslims.

Alan Hargrave, Canon Missioner at the cathedral, is urging people of all religions to be more open-minded when it comes to Muslims wanting to build a small mosque in the city. Speaking in this month’s Ely Cathedral Newsletter, Canon Hargrave says people should be willing for Ely to be a multi-faith society.

His views come just weeks after the English Defence League (EDL) threatened to stage a protest in the city to fight plans to build the Muslim prayer centre.

Canon Hargrave said: “The reports about a possible EDL march in Ely are deeply disturbing. Muslims, along with Christians and Jews, have always been one of the great Abrahamic faiths, who share much in common. Over the centuries, for the most part, the three faiths have lived together relatively peacefully.

“If we oppose their building a place of worship, they will not go away and we will merely build the sort of tensions, fears and hatred that have fuelled the extremism we have witnessed in recent years – among Christians as well as Muslims. Freedom of worship is something we enjoy in our democracy – indeed it is central to it and something we ought to defend at all costs.”

Members of the Ely Muslims group announced they wanted to build a “miniature mosque” in Ely in February. The management committee of the Paradise Centre had told them they would lease them part of its land, along New Barns Road, if they gained planning permission to build the prayer centre.

The group currently has around 50 members who gather inside the Paradise Centre on Fridays.

Ely Weekly News, 11 August 2011