Some myths explored
A: We don’t have a planning application and we are only at the start of this process. All these figures and organisations can only be expected to support a scheme or not when an application is in.
A: The stories citing 70,000 or 40,000 have been wildly exaggerated. The mosque will be able to accommodate 12,000, although the regular weekly attendance is expected to be probably about half that figure. We currently attract about 3500 to our gatherings every Thursday and about 2000 on Friday. In Dewsbury, we currently attract just over 1000 every week.
A: 18 acres.
A: We purchased the site in 1996, for about £1.6 million. It had in the past been occupied by a chemical factory which was probably used to make mustard gas in the last World War. The site was cleared in 1990 before being sold.
A: We have appointed world-class architects Allies and Morrison to design the Mosque and the site. Our design competition was extensive and involved leading architectural practices. They will deliver a first class building that complements the West Ham area and meets the requirements of both the local community and the growing Muslim community in London.
A: We are a mainstream Muslim organisation in the UK. We are a predominately apolitical organisation seeking to go about our faith in a peaceful manner. We have many millions of followers across the world and attracts many thousands of ordinary Muslims every week to our gatherings in the UK, both in London and Dewsbury. In France Tablighi Jamaat is one of the largest Muslim organisations in the country and we expect they play a full part in French culture and society. We utterly refute any links to terrorism or terrorists.
A: No. We utterly refute any links to terrorism or terrorists. We are a mainstream, predominantly apolitical organisation seeking to go about our faith in a peaceful way. We do not teach an extremist line, but we clearly can’t speak for every single one of those who have ever attended our mosques - there are several thousand people at our weekly gatherings.
A: Yes. We would be happy to arrange any such visit on request.
A: The site was originally purchased from a large number of relatively small donations from Muslims, the majority from in and around London. There are 1.2 million Muslims in London alone. We expect to pay for the construction of the mosque in a similar manner. We have no links, and have made no contact with the Saudi Royal Family.
A: It is too early to say.
A: We understand the person who started this petition now supports the plan for the mosque.
A: We haven’t yet considered how many jobs will be created. There will certainly be jobs, probably a wide number, available for non-Muslims. We abide by UK employment legislation like any other organisation.
A: We accept that the five year planning consent granted in 2001 has expired, but we are in dialogue with the local council who accept that the extensive contamination on the site means this issue must be resolved before any new application can proceed. A study on the contamination is being undertaken, and when this report is ready, the council will be willing to entertain another planning application to retain the buildings for a temporary permission.
A: Decontaminating the site will probably be extremely expensive. Extensive landscaping will be throughout the site, with public access to much of the land. An integral part of our plan is to use the natural resources around our site, including the water, to reduce energy consumption and increase recycling. There are two underground reservoirs on the site and these can be used to recycle much of the developments water usage. The desire to recycle is linked to the modesty aspect of Muslim faith and will be incorporated through the design. Additionally we suspect the used of wind power will be incorporated.
A: No. But we are working closely with the Olympic authorities – for instance, they wish to build a new entrance to West Ham station which could link more effectively into the Olympic site.
A: Like all other organisations in London, we fully expect to be taking a full part in celebrating the London Olympics. But we will be no more special and no more integral than any other organisation.
A: Yes. We suspect this will be a flexible space, which can be used for the mosque, but equally can be used by others. It might be used, for instance, as a visitor attraction communicating the ideas and beliefs of the Muslim faith and how Muslims in Britain have integrated, and continue to integrate, into UK society.
A: The early plans suggest we can put a residential school on the site for 500 people, and include a playing field. The plans are still at a very early stage. The school in Dewsbury has been outstandingly successful and there is a waiting list of over 1800. Above-average exam results have achieved there. The system combines traditional Muslim education alongside traditional GCSE’s and A Level exams. Students are taught to be responsible adults that can fully integrate into British society and able to lead active professional lives.
A: There will likely be a library which will probably be integral to the school.
A: We are a missionary organisation, and a small number of travelling missionaries sleep during some religious festivals, but this is unlikely to be more than about 10 or 15 at a time.
A: We are located next door to the new modern West Ham station. As part of the delivery of the Olympics, a new entrance to the station will be built, so people can walk through our site to the Olympic village. We will also work closely with TfL and the bus companies; and we will have generous cycle park provision. Car parking will be kept to a minimum. Our initial discussion with planners and the local authority suggests 650 spaces. It will be part of an overall transport policy which will involve working with TfL (link to tube station at west ham), London Buses, providing cycle provisions and limiting where possible those who drive to the site. The issue of parking outside the site when the car-park becomes full was identified as a possible issue for local residents, which we aim to resolve.