Halesowen mosque plan sparks racist claims

First published in Local

HUNDREDS of objections have scuppered plans to build two 21ft minarets and a dome on a Halesowen mosque – sparking accusations of racism.

Dudley Council planning officers refused the application from The Baitul Ghafoor Mosque, Long Lane, after a storm of protests from people living nearby.

It was thrown out before the development control committee stage in the face of a 225-name petition opposing the plans and objections from local councillors.

But residents fear their concerns the additions to the former Methodist Church would be out of keeping with the area have been interpreted as racist by some members of the Muslim community.

Tracey Willets, who lives opposite, said: “We have been branded as racist – we are not racist, we just spoke our mind.”

She and her neighbours were particularly upset by reported comments of Dr Muhammad Ashraf from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association, which operates the mosque.

He is alleged to have claimed that hatred towards the religion was more of a reason for the objections than the effects on the landscape.

Mrs Willets said: “We don’t dispute they are peace loving people but we do not want minarets and a dome built on the outside of the building that will look stupid.”

She added the controversy had “spoilt” the relationship between mosque members and the community.

Halesowen North UKIP councillor Stuart Henley warned claims such as those attributed to Dr Ashraf “will only turn people against the AMA, which is not what anyone wants”.

The association’s local president Dr Masood Majoka said his members wished to distance themselves from suggestions of racism, adding he was sure Dr Ashraf did not mean to accuse objectors of being racist.

He confirmed the association is considering appealing against the application refusal.

Dr Majoka added: "We are very disappointed about the rejection of this application especially as our architects were trying to set up a meeting with Dudley Council planners concerning altering the plans, but they were not granted a meeting and the application was refused."

Halesowen North’s Conservative councillor Karen Shakespeare and Hilary Bills for Labour, who had also campaigned against the plans, welcomed the refusal.

Cllr Shakespeare said: "The minarets would have had a strong visual impact and would have affected the skyline."

She added: "The Dudley Central Mosque scaled back its plans without any problem to its worshippers. They can enjoy worship without having turrets and domes on the building.”

Cllr Bills said: "I respect the members of the mosque for their work in the community and hope that in return they will respect the wishes of the local community most of whom, like myself, think that a dome and minarets are inappropriate additions to a well-known traditional local building."

Comments (6)

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9:51am Thu 24 Jul 14

IJattala says...

With respect to Mrs. Tracey Willets who claims “We have been branded as racist – we are not racist, we just spoke our mind.” I sure agree with the last part; she certainly speaks her mind.

She goes on to tell Muslims what a mosque should (or shouldn't) look like, saying, "we do not want minarets and a dome built on the outside of the building," adding, "that will look stupid.” Well, If she finds mosques with minarets an domes stupid, her love for and acceptance of Muslims it clearly at display here.
With respect to Mrs. Tracey Willets who claims “We have been branded as racist – we are not racist, we just spoke our mind.” I sure agree with the last part; she certainly speaks her mind. She goes on to tell Muslims what a mosque should (or shouldn't) look like, saying, "we do not want minarets and a dome built on the outside of the building," adding, "that will look stupid.” Well, If she finds mosques with minarets an domes stupid, her love for and acceptance of Muslims it clearly at display here. IJattala
  • Score: -31

11:24am Thu 24 Jul 14

Pounce says...

IJattala wrote:
With respect to Mrs. Tracey Willets who claims “We have been branded as racist – we are not racist, we just spoke our mind.” I sure agree with the last part; she certainly speaks her mind.

She goes on to tell Muslims what a mosque should (or shouldn't) look like, saying, "we do not want minarets and a dome built on the outside of the building," adding, "that will look stupid.” Well, If she finds mosques with minarets an domes stupid, her love for and acceptance of Muslims it clearly at display here.
Err, I don't think pointing out that eastern bits of architecture don't seamlessly fit in with British architecture can be deemd as "Racist"
[quote][p][bold]IJattala[/bold] wrote: With respect to Mrs. Tracey Willets who claims “We have been branded as racist – we are not racist, we just spoke our mind.” I sure agree with the last part; she certainly speaks her mind. She goes on to tell Muslims what a mosque should (or shouldn't) look like, saying, "we do not want minarets and a dome built on the outside of the building," adding, "that will look stupid.” Well, If she finds mosques with minarets an domes stupid, her love for and acceptance of Muslims it clearly at display here.[/p][/quote]Err, I don't think pointing out that eastern bits of architecture don't seamlessly fit in with British architecture can be deemd as "Racist" Pounce
  • Score: 32

11:46am Thu 24 Jul 14

damijo says...

For the past 30 odd years, any attempted discussion at immigration policies, any attempted dialogue to have fears about immigration better understood have been stamped on with the yell "Racist". What it has come to mean in reality is, "If I can't get what I want, then I will scream and scream" ......I wonder what would happen to Christians if they screamed and screamed about not having a single church built anywhere in Saudi, Kuwait, Bahrain et al. Why do Muslims demand rights and favours that they themselves refuse to allow. Christians in the new radical Muslim pseudo state of ISIL (ISIS), have offered Christians either forced conversion, the religious poll tax, evacuation or death. The word "Hypocrite" strongly springs to mind when the empty headed "Racist" chanters start. "Sadly, it is not often, that a closed mind, comes with a closed mouth".
For the past 30 odd years, any attempted discussion at immigration policies, any attempted dialogue to have fears about immigration better understood have been stamped on with the yell "Racist". What it has come to mean in reality is, "If I can't get what I want, then I will scream and scream" ......I wonder what would happen to Christians if they screamed and screamed about not having a single church built anywhere in Saudi, Kuwait, Bahrain et al. Why do Muslims demand rights and favours that they themselves refuse to allow. Christians in the new radical Muslim pseudo state of ISIL (ISIS), have offered Christians either forced conversion, the religious poll tax, evacuation or death. The word "Hypocrite" strongly springs to mind when the empty headed "Racist" chanters start. "Sadly, it is not often, that a closed mind, comes with a closed mouth". damijo
  • Score: 33

3:10pm Thu 24 Jul 14

mucklow hill resident says...

Totally agree with you damijo. I commented on the other page about this minaret proposal and that's all the other person could say about me was that I must be racist or have racist views. I couldn't put up a phone mast or a wind turbine in this area as it would look out of place so why should they be allowed a dirty big dome on a building as it too would also look out of place.
Totally agree with you damijo. I commented on the other page about this minaret proposal and that's all the other person could say about me was that I must be racist or have racist views. I couldn't put up a phone mast or a wind turbine in this area as it would look out of place so why should they be allowed a dirty big dome on a building as it too would also look out of place. mucklow hill resident
  • Score: 31

9:21am Fri 25 Jul 14

Wiggyboom1981+1 says...

I didn't say you were racist I said you were prejudiced... so don't try and make out you were called one. There is a massive difference between a wind turbine and a telephone mast and improving a building. What is dirty about a dome or minarets??
It may not be to your taste but luckily for the world we don't all have to like the same thing. Hitler wanted everything to look exactly the same and for everything to fit in with his vision!
Just because it doesn't fit in with houses surrounding it surely it doesn't mean it shouldn't be there??
WBA football ground totally out of place, Old Trafford surrounded by houses should they be knocked down for not looking like everything else around it.
The travelodge in halesowen faces a row of houses?? Totally out of place, the aldi in halesowen totally out of place??

The group want to have a building that feels like a place of worship, not just a renovated place of worship but something they can be proud of in a community they work tirelessly to help and improve.

This is more to do with lack of understanding and tolerance as opposed to racism.
I didn't say you were racist I said you were prejudiced... so don't try and make out you were called one. There is a massive difference between a wind turbine and a telephone mast and improving a building. What is dirty about a dome or minarets?? It may not be to your taste but luckily for the world we don't all have to like the same thing. Hitler wanted everything to look exactly the same and for everything to fit in with his vision! Just because it doesn't fit in with houses surrounding it surely it doesn't mean it shouldn't be there?? WBA football ground totally out of place, Old Trafford surrounded by houses should they be knocked down for not looking like everything else around it. The travelodge in halesowen faces a row of houses?? Totally out of place, the aldi in halesowen totally out of place?? The group want to have a building that feels like a place of worship, not just a renovated place of worship but something they can be proud of in a community they work tirelessly to help and improve. This is more to do with lack of understanding and tolerance as opposed to racism. Wiggyboom1981+1
  • Score: -27

11:33pm Wed 30 Jul 14

Local Man From Dudley says...

Seems to me that if we don't like it then we must be racist.
Seems to me that if we don't like it then we must be racist. Local Man From Dudley
  • Score: 7

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