West Ham is in need of a new mosque because of a lack of worshipping space for Muslims, religious leaders say. Tabilighi Jama’at, the Islamic group hoping to build a new facility in Canning Road, said it acted on a comprehensive study of the borough before submitting its plans.
The controversial proposals have finally been validated by Newham Council planners. The 6.3 hectare site will contain a mosque that is expected to treble the 2 to 3,000 of worshippers currently able to attend the temporary site every week. The group has also promised to include a library, dining hall, and sports pitches and a visitors’ centre, all for the community.
A spokesman for the group’s trustees said: “The centre currently provides much needed worship space but the current temporary outbuildings have been outgrown. There is a considerable shortage of worshipping facilities within Newham and surrounding boroughs.”
He said a “comprehensive needs study” into the current and future worshipping needs of the Muslim community was carried out by Ecorys, a European research consultancy. He added: “Based on the findings of a severe shortfall in demand, an appropriate proposal was then commissioned by the trustees to effectively deal with the requirements of the Newham residents.”
The group’s intention to reach out to all residents has been made following accusations that Tabilghi Jama’at are isolationist and sexist. They have survived an attempt by Newham Council to remove them from the site, successfully appealing an enforcement notice served in 2010.
Former Newham Cllr Alan Craig, now co-ordinator of the Mega Mosque No Thanks campaign, said they will analyse the plans once they are made public.
He said: “Tablighi Jamaat is a fundamentalist sect that is hostile to all non-Muslim society, so they shouldn’t be allowed to build this huge platform to promote their divisive antisocial ideology.
“Further, they have a track record of deliberately creating Islamic enclaves around their mosques – which is what they’ve done for instance in the streets around their large mosque in the Savile Town area of Dewsbury, east Yorkshire.
“We will analyse the plans when they are published to see exactly what impact they will have on the neighbourhood and the borough.”