Minarets plan proving divisive in Halesowen

Controversial mosque extension plan.

Controversial mosque extension plan.

First published in News

ANGRY residents living close to a Halesowen mosque have accused Muslim leaders of failing to listen to their objections to plans to build 21ft high minarets and a dome on top of the former Methodist church.

And a neighbour fears they will “bring hatred upon themselves” if they pursue the plans and they are approved by Dudley Council.

The Amhadiyya Muslim Association held an open day at the Baitul Ghafoor Mosque, Long Lane, last Saturday in a bid to quell concerns about the size of the additions.

About 35 neighbours went along to discuss the plans and the association’s local president Dr Masood Majoka said he believed some of the opposition had “softened”.

But he rejected a compromise from Halesowen North UKIP councillor Stuart Henley to scrap plans for the two minarets and just have the dome.

He said: “No mosque is complete without minarets and they are not disproportionate to the size of the building.”

But Cllr Henley warned the association’s determination to press ahead with the planning application could alienate the Muslims from the rest of the community.

He said: “This will ruin some of the good will they have built up over the two years since opening the mosque in 2012.

“People are disappointed they are not listening to them. They will lose support.”

Cllr Henley said minarets – like church spires and bell towers - were relics from ancient times which were redundant in the modern world.

“New churches don’t tend to be built with them and minarets, used to call followers to prayer, are not needed now,” he added.

Resident Tracey Willetts said local people objected because they did not think the minarets and dome “were in keeping” with the area and feared house prices would be adversely affected.

She said: “The open day was a total waste of time. Most of the people who come to the mosque live away from here and they won’t accept our views.

“We are not racist – the work they have put into the mosque is very good. It looks lovely inside and looks a lot better on the outside because they have cleaned it up.

“But we don’t want to look out of our windows at great big minarets.

“They say they are good people and deserve to have what they want, but they don’t think we deserve to have what we want.”

Comments (7)

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11:53am Thu 3 Jul 14

Sam Vimes says...

You know the minarets are going ON TOP of the existing building, right?
You know the minarets are going ON TOP of the existing building, right? Sam Vimes
  • Score: 12

1:08pm Thu 3 Jul 14

ukip-halesowen says...

Most modern day churches are not built with Spires. Its not being racist its about the building fitting in with the area. The Ahmadiyya Muslims work well with the community and have listened to the locals needs and helped out but they are not listening now. Cllr Henley asked about the locals and the Ahmadiyya Muslims to meet half way, he said what about having the dome but not the minarets? Locals were ok with this but not the mosque.
Minarets are not needed now a days as they were in the past. They were in place to be seen from as far as possible and to call prayer from, which will not be happening here apart from being seen from a far. Will there be an increase in attendance? if so this will then also be an issue with traffic, noise of people coming and going.
JM
Most modern day churches are not built with Spires. Its not being racist its about the building fitting in with the area. The Ahmadiyya Muslims work well with the community and have listened to the locals needs and helped out but they are not listening now. Cllr Henley asked about the locals and the Ahmadiyya Muslims to meet half way, he said what about having the dome but not the minarets? Locals were ok with this but not the mosque. Minarets are not needed now a days as they were in the past. They were in place to be seen from as far as possible and to call prayer from, which will not be happening here apart from being seen from a far. Will there be an increase in attendance? if so this will then also be an issue with traffic, noise of people coming and going. JM ukip-halesowen
  • Score: 8

4:19pm Thu 3 Jul 14

Old John Bull says...

Surely to build these minarets they need to give a reason why. I can not imagine any reason or any need to erect a pair of towers higher than any neighbouring building. The building is beautiful as is . perhaps someone would enlighten me.

If they wanted a mosque with minarets and a great big dome on top why did they not build one. Instead of vandalising a traditional style Methodist chapel. Is this some way of Beating the planning system buying old building and then later changing them. I am pretty sure that if they had originally done this no mosque would be there now.

This is our countries heritage we are letting slip away.

You talk of peace and goodwill then treat your neighbours as you would like to be treated yourself. Don't impose your wishes on others. Peace marches and open days might win headlines but this shows what you really think of the kafirs.
Surely to build these minarets they need to give a reason why. I can not imagine any reason or any need to erect a pair of towers higher than any neighbouring building. The building is beautiful as is . perhaps someone would enlighten me. If they wanted a mosque with minarets and a great big dome on top why did they not build one. Instead of vandalising a traditional style Methodist chapel. Is this some way of Beating the planning system buying old building and then later changing them. I am pretty sure that if they had originally done this no mosque would be there now. This is our countries heritage we are letting slip away. You talk of peace and goodwill then treat your neighbours as you would like to be treated yourself. Don't impose your wishes on others. Peace marches and open days might win headlines but this shows what you really think of the kafirs. Old John Bull
  • Score: 8

6:40pm Thu 3 Jul 14

Di Harley says...

As a resident of long lane I attended the open day. I was told to have the dome and minarets it would show it was a mosque then why didn't it have them in the first place when you originally changed it to a mosque . Personally I loved what you have done inside and would like to see just the dome on it .
As a resident of long lane I attended the open day. I was told to have the dome and minarets it would show it was a mosque then why didn't it have them in the first place when you originally changed it to a mosque . Personally I loved what you have done inside and would like to see just the dome on it . Di Harley
  • Score: -2

8:42pm Thu 3 Jul 14

ukip-halesowen says...

I've heard more objections than residents wanting this but To object to this planning application we need to get some good reasons why we object to them.
I believe they will wish to extend the building later on as surely the minarets will attract more worshippers etc to the mosque & community room which will then bring more traffic and not enough parking spaces on the car park there is.
It needs to be wrote down if the planning application goes ahead that there will be no further extension in the future also that there will be no call for prayer at all in the future.
SH
I've heard more objections than residents wanting this but To object to this planning application we need to get some good reasons why we object to them. I believe they will wish to extend the building later on as surely the minarets will attract more worshippers etc to the mosque & community room which will then bring more traffic and not enough parking spaces on the car park there is. It needs to be wrote down if the planning application goes ahead that there will be no further extension in the future also that there will be no call for prayer at all in the future. SH ukip-halesowen
  • Score: 6

12:08pm Fri 4 Jul 14

TomMason says...

The fact that this Muslim Community is not asking for the total change of structure of the former Methodist Church goes well to show that they have played their part in meeting at the half way line and to further request the users of this Mosque to back down more is totally unfair and goes on to show hidden prejudices which exist against Muslim communities. To be sure, it is not the fault of the neighbours that such prejudices exist, but the unfortunate misdoings of violent but small Muslim groups which gives a bad press to the entire Muslim community. In particular, The Ahmadiyya are themselves persecuted in Muslim countries and their mosques are burned. It's the case of "neither here nor there."

Let me take the opportunity to respond to some comments:
-As far as the imagery goes, no structure of the former chapel is being broken down and hence there is no "vandalism" of the former structure. The structure can be returned to the former state if required.
-If a mosque does not fit into the area, I struggle to understand how a chapel manages to fit into a residential area? I do not see complaints against chapels and churches.
-What about the nearby St Paul's Church? Is that not high?
The fact that this Muslim Community is not asking for the total change of structure of the former Methodist Church goes well to show that they have played their part in meeting at the half way line and to further request the users of this Mosque to back down more is totally unfair and goes on to show hidden prejudices which exist against Muslim communities. To be sure, it is not the fault of the neighbours that such prejudices exist, but the unfortunate misdoings of violent but small Muslim groups which gives a bad press to the entire Muslim community. In particular, The Ahmadiyya are themselves persecuted in Muslim countries and their mosques are burned. It's the case of "neither here nor there." Let me take the opportunity to respond to some comments: -As far as the imagery goes, no structure of the former chapel is being broken down and hence there is no "vandalism" of the former structure. The structure can be returned to the former state if required. -If a mosque does not fit into the area, I struggle to understand how a chapel manages to fit into a residential area? I do not see complaints against chapels and churches. -What about the nearby St Paul's Church? Is that not high? TomMason
  • Score: -21

8:51am Wed 9 Jul 14

Wiggyboom1981+1 says...

I don't see the issue. If they want to make their place of worship look more traditional then so be it. Personally I feel the building will look striking. British heritage is inclusive of all religions and faiths. We are not losing anything by this Mosque being changed. People should embrace the change and feel proud that they are able to be accepting and tolerant of all faiths.
I get the feeling people feel that this religion is being forced on them but I am interested to hear from people what they actually know about the religion or how minarets or a dome forces the religion upon them? As far as I know Muslims do not get there religion from a minaret or a dome so why would anyone else??
I follow no religion, have no belief system in a higher power. I see this for what it is. A group of people who believe in something wanting to come together in a place that they feel comfortable in. They want to bring a bit of their culture and heritage to the area and that can only improve a community. (unless as it seems that community is prejudiced and narrow minded)

Great Britain?? There is nothing great about Britain if we continue to squabble over things like this. Accept change because change is here, change is happening and change will happen with or without you.
I don't see the issue. If they want to make their place of worship look more traditional then so be it. Personally I feel the building will look striking. British heritage is inclusive of all religions and faiths. We are not losing anything by this Mosque being changed. People should embrace the change and feel proud that they are able to be accepting and tolerant of all faiths. I get the feeling people feel that this religion is being forced on them but I am interested to hear from people what they actually know about the religion or how minarets or a dome forces the religion upon them? As far as I know Muslims do not get there religion from a minaret or a dome so why would anyone else?? I follow no religion, have no belief system in a higher power. I see this for what it is. A group of people who believe in something wanting to come together in a place that they feel comfortable in. They want to bring a bit of their culture and heritage to the area and that can only improve a community. (unless as it seems that community is prejudiced and narrow minded) Great Britain?? There is nothing great about Britain if we continue to squabble over things like this. Accept change because change is here, change is happening and change will happen with or without you. Wiggyboom1981+1
  • Score: -3

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