A plan to build a mosque in an area of London with a large Jewish community has sparked outrage among some Jewish residents.
In July, the charity “Centre for Islamic Enlightening” bought the Golders Green Hippodrome and it is now seeking the local council’s permission to turn the building into a mosque.
Spokesperson Ahmed Al-Kazemi confirmed this week that the building would house the Hussainiyat Al-Rasool Al-Adham mosque and Islamic centre serving the Shia community in north-west London.
But a petition against the plan posted on Barnet Council’s website has attracted almost 4,000 signatures, with a further 186 objections lodged on the site, and only 93 comments in support.
Whereas some critics of the proposed mosque highlighted their concerns over increased traffic, local hospital access and late night noise, others took issue with the increased presence of Muslims in the area.
“I am positively terrified of the influx of imposing and threatening-looking visitors who frequent the centre. They are preaching hatred of all non-believers and especially of Jews!” said one petition respondent who chose to remain anonymous.
Another respondent, Josephine Bacon, said: “To place a large Muslim institution in the heart of one of London’s only two Jewish communities is a highly dangerous undertaking and one that can only result in violence and terrorism.
Rachelle Marks wrote: “The appearance of burkas [and] veils has changed the area… the traffic is too much and we don’t know what they are preaching as [it is] all in Arabic.”
Ayelet Avroya wrote: “This is going to force the Jewish population to run away and make this beautiful neighbourhood too crowded, with loads of burkas and veils over the weekend which I find scary and changes the fine balance between the residents of this area.”
However, the spokesman for the centre Ahmed Al-Kazemi extended a hand of friendship after the sale of the former concert venue, saying: “We are very pleased and excited to be in Golders Green in such a diverse area. We can’t wait to get to know our neighbours and plan to welcome them at an open day sometime in December.”