Saturday, 23 March 2013

give and take: the council, the mosque and the locals

I’m sure ministers of religion worldwide can empathise with the leaders of Cambridge’s Mawson Road mosque when they say they can’t control all of their worshippers all the time.

The mosque was in the Cambridge News because of problems arising from the use of an extension without planning permission.

However, mosque leaders aren’t asked to control all behaviour all the time among their congregation. They are asked to deal with nuisance and intimidation before, during and after prayers on Friday evening. The nuisance is mainly illegal parking and noise, but locals claim they have been threatened when they have tried to raise this directly in the face of police inaction.

Cambridge City Council has a sterling reputation when it comes to dealing with places of worship that inadvertently create disputes: mainly parking problems caused by further development of the area after the church etc was built. I can think of a Christian church in south Cambridge that was contacted because of this. The entire church community got together and devised solutions including laying out traffic-cones before services to prevent worshippers parking inappropriately - which, when done by the police on Mawson Road, has had "limited impact".

I don’t know a single person who wants the mosque community to be treated worse than any other worship community. All people want is to see the laws of the land applied consistently across all religious groups. The City Council shows a lot of give when dealing with religious communities, but it seems all give has been taken with precious little reciprocation.

This is too big a burden to lay on the mosque leaders. Is something preventing sections of the communities of mosque-users from working together to find a solution? If solutions aren’t found on Mawson Road, these problems will be carried over to the other side of Mill Road and magnified when the mega-mosque is built with, for one thing, proportionally less parking space.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words


Development Control Forum, Wednesday, 16th January, 2013 10.00 am - minutes of the meeting between Cambridge City Councillors, mosque representatives and local residents: please read through for an understanding of the issues underlying the tensions.

'Noisy' mosque extension set to get green light - Cambridge News

Claims of 'disorder and noise' at mosque - Cambridge News

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