Plans for a large mosque were approved by Medway council this evening as police waited outside after a ‘day of action’ by right wing activists.
Right wing pressure group Britain First carried out a ‘day of action’ in the Medway towns today in protest at the mosque plans. Activists handed out leaflets and protested with a banner stating “No more mosques!”
Before the meeting, uniformed Britain First members were confronted outside the council offices by a group called The Truth About Britain First, who also handed out leaflets.
Six members of Britain First attended the meeting and shouted at the end about the segregation of women.
Men and women worshipping in mosques use different entrances and are separated by a curtain when praying.
The mosque will be built on a car park next to the station. Medway residents raised concerns about lack of commuter parking with the loss of the car park and up to 400 visitors to the new mosque.
Council officers said a 78-space car park on the old filling station next door and private arrangements by worshippers, including bulk buying spaces in South Eastern’s car park, will overcome the issue. They admitted potential remains for “some occasional on-street parking within residential areas to the east”.
The Kent Muslim Welfare Association applied for the mosque to replace the one in Canterbury Street. The landmark three-storey building will include a mortuary to store bodies before ritual burial, as well as three shops and a cafe.
The council has drawn up a series of conditions relating to parking, lighting, landscaping and noise. One of the conditions means there will be no call to prayer or announcements allowed from the minaret. Amplified music or sound should not be able to be heard at the boundary of the site.
There are more than 5,000 Muslims in Medway – 2% of the population – who struggle to fit into the Association’s base in Canterbury Street.
The mosque was attacked in the wake of Lee Rigby’s murder in Woolwich last year.
Update: See also “New Gillingham mosque gets green light – despite right wing protests”, Maidstone and Medway News, 14 August 2014
Britain First threatens that as a result of the council’s decision it will be “stepping up its Medway campaign now, that’ll include a more direct and personal approach to halting this unnecessary act of colonisation in Medway”.