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More trouble at t’Mill Road: news of the Cambridge Mosque

Last month Sareeta Webra, together with Stephen Gash of Stop the Islamisation of Europe, made a failed attempt to get an injunction served against the Muslim Academic Trust, in order to prevent them from building a new mosque on Mill Road, Cambridge.  Here’s a sample of their argument:

Gathering of public voting data on the Mill Road Mosque construction has not been conducted lawfully, if at all.

A significant number of complaints have been forwarded to Cambridge County Council about the mosque’s construction. It would appear comments in support of the mosque have been replicated to make it seem as if support outweighs objection.

It is well documented that many so-called Muslim charities are fronts for Islamic terrorism and that several of those cited are based in the United Kingdom.

Therefore, mosque construction must be halted until Prime Minister David Cameron’s proposed legalisation of sharia-based finance in the UK, including the first sharia finance bond outside of a Muslim country, is investigated by police, the National Audit Office, Financial Ombudsman, the Financial Conduct Authority and any other authority responsible for preventing money laundering and the financing of terroris

Islamic practices contravene numerous sections of the Sex Discrimination Act 2010 and such discrimination is openly preached and practised in mosques.

This was my favourite part of the document:

Sareeta Webra said, “The English Reformation and foundation of the Church of England started in Cambridge and is celebrated with a plaque on King’s College.  Cambridge is the last bastion of Christianity in England and must not fall to Islam, which the construction of the Mill Road mosque clearly intends for Cambridge. I am myself a believer in Jesus Christ the Saviour and have become so without in any way abandoning my Sikhism and love for the Khalsa.

There is of course nothing wrong with raising specific concerns about Islamic charities or (interpretations of) Islam’s teachings with regard to women.  (Here’s a video of Cambridge Imam Timothy Winter being intensely annoying on this issue.) MP Julian Huppert’s response was rather formulaic:

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert said such views had “no place in this city”. He told the News: “It both infuriates and saddens me that anyone would make such unpleasant and inaccurate allegations, attacking people just because of their 
religious beliefs.

It might be perfectly proper and proportionate to attack people because of their religious beliefs – it rather depends on the beliefs. However I agree that the objections raised by Gash and Webra aren’t valid reasons to refuse planning permission for this mosque.

Cambridge News is now reporting a revival of an old petition against the new building. Here are a few comments:

These people breed like rats NO MORE mosques



Many of the signatories are clearly based in America, and other commenters on this issue also seem to have a hazy grasp of the area.  You would think, to judge from some objections, that the mosque was being built opposite King’s College, not in an unglamorous suburb, on a scruffy disused site. Leaflets have warned that the mosque’s dome is deliberately designed to dominate the skyline, although it’s clear from the plans that this is nonsense.

Others complain that it is out of character for the area, but it’s not as though the warehouses which used to be on the site were either characterful or attractive.

One reader of the Cambridge News observed:

“I am against the “mega -mosque ” and against it in Mill Road. It is overbearing and disproportionate to the number of Cambridge people who wish to use it. It is sited in a prominent position in Cambridge in a well known street that seems to be the most liberal in Cambridge:- alcohol, drugs, gay people and young students dressing however they wish. And in the middle of it all – a Mosque! Spells trouble. “

This sketch of Mill Road as a rather Bohemian area is broadly accurate, but is much more true of the location of the current small mosque, on the busier town side of the railway bridge (and right next to a pub), than it is of the new mosque site which cannot really be said to be in a ‘prominent location’.

Illiberal and ill-informed anti-mosque campaigns don’t help those of us who do wish to draw attention to problems associated with some mosques or preachers – including, occasionally, problems in Cambridge.  I’ve heard that there’s some Saudi funding involved, which is not exactly welcome, but Cambridge University has also benefitted from Saudi funding, and that’s a secular organisation which receives state support, not an avowedly religious foundation like the mosque.

The funding issue – particularly if it’s likely to have any impact on the mosque’s teaching – is a legitimate topic for discussion, of course. However the originator of the failed injunction, Sareeta Webra, is clearly a bigot who thinks nuking Mecca would be a good solution to the problems she perceives with Islam.   Personally – and although I’ve raised concerns about the Cambridge mosque in the past – I’m a YIMBY on this one.