LONDON – London is set to become home to the largest mosque outside the Middle East, as controversial plans continue to move forward for a huge development in East London.
Already England’s capital city contains more mosques than any other in the Western world, and plans have been continuously rumored for an enormous modern Muslim complex which would create an Islamic village in London’s East End.
At the proposed site, a simple and small mosque currently stands, which is set to make way for a 17-acre center for up to 70,000 Muslim worshippers, according to information received by U.K.-based Christian Today.
Although the mosque would dwarf many of England’s Christian cathedrals, it is not the size of the proposals that is the main concern, but rather the group behind the proposed establishment.
Alan Craig of Christian Peoples Alliance, said the "mega-mosque" is "going to be very large."
"It's going to be a mosque, it's going to be an Islamic garden, there's going to be a library, there's going to be residential accommodation," he said, according to CBN News.
Craig is also a councilman for the London Borough of Newham, where the mosque is set to be built. Stating the reason why he is fighting against the development of the super-mosque, Craig said: "I'm not anti-Muslim. I'm a democrat. I believe Muslims have the right to build mosques. But there's a difference between your average mosque down the road…and this monster mosque, this mega-mosque that they want to build."
The group behind the development is called Tablighi Jamaat.
According to the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Tablighi Jamaat has ties to al-Qaeda. In addition, the shoe bomber Richard Reid was associated with Tablighi Jamaat, as were two of the 7/7 bombers who struck London's public transport system in 2005.
Tablighi Jamaat has come under scrutiny from western security agencies since 9/11. Two years ago, according to The New York Times, a senior FBI anti-terrorism official claimed it was a recruiting ground for al-Qaeda.
British police investigated a report that Mohammad Sidique Khan, leader of the July 7 London bombers, had attended its present headquarters in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire. In August, Bavaria expelled three members of the organization on the grounds that it promoted Islamic extremism.
Defenders of Tablighi Jamaat say that it is not political and confines itself to humanitarian work. It was founded in India under the British Raj and has many members in Pakistan and Bangladesh.
However, much of the funding for the project is set to come from the Middle East, and so concerned are people about the proposals that even some moderate British Muslims have stated their opposition to the mosque being built and created a petition against it.
Dr Irfan al-Alawi, one of the Muslims fighting the development, has argued that the mosque will be a security threat to the community.
Al-Alawi said, according to CBN News, “I think, yes. Once the youth have been brainwashed, and been captured by the satanic ideology of the Tablighis, yes, it will come as a very hard-hitting movement.”
The proposals for the huge mosque have become more controversial because of the numerous acts of terrorism seen across the West in recent years. In particular, the British government is taking into serious consideration the present security threat coming from homegrown Islamic terrorists, which are becoming more widespread.
Newsweek has reported that increasing numbers of Britons are traveling to Pakistan to train in terrorism techniques.
Al-Alawi also told CBN News that Pakistan is where Tablighi Jamaat sends young British-born Muslims to be brainwashed into extremism.
Al-Alawi asked: "Is the British government really going to turn a blind eye on that and say, ‘Let's go ahead and give these people a chance?’ I don't think so. If they want a 9/11 in England, then by all means."
The spokesman for Tablighi Jamaat, Abdul Khalique, has refused an interview request by CBN News. But CBN explained that "he told the British press that the mega mosque …will be something never seen before in this country. It is a mosque for the future, as part of the British landscape.’"