Building a mosque next to the Olympic site could create a breeding ground for extremists, a senior Church of England official has warned. Dr Philip Lewis, an interfaith adviser to the Bishop of Bradford, said that the plans threaten to establish a ghetto of Muslims taught to embrace jihad.
In the first intervention by a Church figure over the controversial project, Dr Lewis raised fears that a 12,000-capacity mosque in London would lead to a segregated Muslim community. The mosque would be four times the size of Britain’s largest cathedral. “Tablighi Jamaat does not try to engage with wider society so there must be clear worries that such a mosque would lead to a ghetto,” he said. “The danger is that this becomes a self-contained world, which would be vulnerable to extremists.”
His comments follow a private meeting of Anglican and Roman Catholic clergy earlier this month who fear that the mosque could have a negative effect on east London, the proposed site for the building. Councillor Alan Craig, who leads the Christian People’s Alliance and organised the meeting, said that Dr Lewis’s contribution to the debate was a great boost to the campaign to block the mosque.
He said: “For someone of Philip Lewis’s stature and experience, who has good relations with Muslims, to make these comments is a great help to our campaign. It shows that this is a reasoned campaign against the mega-mosque and is not built on Islamaphobia, but on facts and evidence.”
Frankly, you’d have thought Philip Lewis would know better. It’s a matter of days since he was himself denounced for his connections to another Deobandi organisation, the Association of Muslim Scholars of Britain (JUB), which has been attacked in similar terms to Tablighi Jamaat.
Update: For Yusuf Smith’s comments, see Indigo Jo Blogs, 20 October 2008