Extra security on call for council planning meeting on Melbourne mosque

Police are set to be drafted into a controversial planning meeting next week as a council prepares to decide whether to give the go-ahead for a mosque to be built next door to a Christian church.

More than 1200 objections to the proposed mosque in Melbourne’s north have already been received and security guards will also be on hand at the meeting in a bid to keep the peace. Hume City Council is considering asking Victoria Police to send officers along over fears violence might break out between 1000 people who are expected to attend Monday’s planning meeting.

The council has received messages stating if the mosque gets planning approval there will be a “massacre”. Objections the council has received state that if the mosque is built it will lead to tension, violence and social disharmony in the area.

St Mary’s Ancient Church of the East opened in Kyabram St, Coolaroo, in 2009. The church has more than 1600 members of the area’s Assyrian community, who fled religious persecution in the Middle East.

The Shia Muslim Al Sadiq Foundation plans to build a large mosque on vacant land beside the church. The planned mosque will be twice the size of the church. It will feature a 25m high minaret – a tall spire common at Islamic mosques – and a 230 capacity car park.

A source at the council said: “This is a really sensitive issue but the council will be looking at it from a planning perspective. There have been hundreds and hundreds of complaints made on religious grounds. The reason extra security will be on hand at the meeting on Monday is because we are expecting fireworks.”

Hume City Council spokesman Michael Sinclair said: “Council has received a planning permit application for a place of worship in Coolaroo. Council officers will assess the application and provide a recommendation for consideration on Monday.”

Herald Sun, 20 August 2013