For the foreseeable future this website is not being updated.

Answering your questions

Q1. How big will the mosque be?

Q2. Has the planned mosque been downsized?

Q3. When will the mosque plans be published?

Q4. Will public funds help pay for the mosque?

Q5. What about Saudi funding?

Q6. Is it true that Muslims living near the site have raised a petition against the mosque?

Q7. Does that mean Tablighi Jamaat is not popular within the wider Islamic community?

Q8. What about the London Evening Standard online poll?

Q9. And the 10 Downing Street petition?

Q10. Does Tablighi Jamaat have terrorist links?

Q11. Is it true the mosque site at West Ham is contaminated? Is it a health hazard?

Q12. Can you identify some personal experiences of contact with Tablighi Jamaat?

Q13. Will the government block the construction of the mega-mosque?

Q14. Why did a secretive separatist sect like Tablighi Jamaat decide to employ a modern western PR agency like Indigo Public Affairs?

 

Q1. How big will the mosque be?

A. There has been media speculation that the mosque will have a capacity of 40,000 to 70,000 worshippers (see for instance Sunday Times ). This would make the mosque one of the largest in the world. Such speculation was fanned by the extravagant drawings shown on the website of Mangera Yvars, the mosque’s first architect who was sacked during the first quarter of 2007.

However, as early as September 2006 a mosque spokesman told BBC Asian Network that the planning application at the first stage would be for a 12,000 capacity mosque (10,000 men and 2,000 women). This is what we now expect to see when the mosque plans are published. This will still make the mosque the largest in Europe.

We will need to assess the capacity implications if subsequently there is to be a second (and third?) stage.

 

Q2. Has the planned mosque been downsized?

A. No. It is true that soon after the appointment of PR agents Indigo Public Affairs in early 2007 the official word was put out that the planned mosque had been “downsized” to 12,000 in response to local opposition (see for instance BBC TV report ).

But this “downsizing” was part of a new and misleading makeover promoted by Indigo that is attempting to rebrand Tablighi Jamaat as warm and community-friendly. There was nothing new about the 12,000 figure; see above. There had been no “downsizing” of the plans in response to local people, it was simply PR spin.

 

Q3. When will the mosque plans be published?

A. Following the appointment of new architects, Allies and Morrison, in mid-2007, conflicting public statements have been issued about the likely date of the publication of the mosque masterplan.

First they said they would publish the masterplan in 2008. Then they said 2009. We suspect it will take longer.

 

Q4. Will public funds help pay for the mosque?

A. Then-Mayor of London Ken Livingstone has stated that public funds will not be used for building the mosque. Certainly we have found no clear evidence that taxpayers’ money will fund the mosque.

However, just down the road in Whitechapel public funds contributed towards the construction of the huge East London Mosque extension , which was opened in June 2004. The authorities should not be surprised therefore if people speculate that similar government support may be shown towards the West Ham mega-mosque.

 

Q5. What about Saudi funding?

A. Saudi Arabia is likely to be a major source of funding. Despite specific claims by the mosque promoters that the Saudi Royal Family have not been approached and will not be contributing, there are other oil billionaires in Saudi Arabia who support the spread in the West of Tablighi Jamaat’s narrow separatist form of Deobandi Islam that is similar in many respects to their own intolerant Wahhabi Islam.

Certainly Tablighi Jamaat has a track record on this. In the early 1980s the construction of their current European and UK headquarters mosque in Dewsbury, west Yorkshire, was supported financially by the Muslim World League. According to the Saudi-based MWL Secretary General, over 90% of the organisation’s funding comes from Saudi Arabia, so the Tablighi Jamaat/Saudi financing connection is clear.

Saudi human rights abuse and religious intolerance is well documented and, according to some, second only to that of North Korea. Yet the Saudis are spending billions of dollars each year spreading their malign influence around the West through the funding of mosques, Islamic seminaries and university departments.

The UK must not allow further Saudi influence in the UK through funding of this proposed large national landmark mosque at West Ham.

 

Q6. Is it true that Muslims living near the site have raised a petition against the mosque?

A. Yes some 2,500 Muslims living in Newham, east London have signed a petition against the mosque. Of course as mainstream Muslims they don’t object to big mosques. But they do object to this Tabligh mosque partly because, as the petition says, Tablighi Jamaat’s ideology is “not...conducive to good community cohesion.”

The mosque promoters insist that the petition organiser has now changed his mind. Even if that is so, it doesn’t negate the views of the other 2,499 signatories to the petition.

 

Q7. Does that mean Tablighi Jamaat is not popular within the wider Islamic community?

A. It is certainly controversial, in part because it’s radical and simplistic ‘them-and-us’ interpretation of Islam rejects the centuries of sophisticated scholarship, teaching and spirituality of classical Islam.

For example, UK Muslim leaders who are prepared to come out against the mosque publicly for varying reasons include Dr Irfan al-Alawi of the Centre for Islamic Pluralism , Zulfi Bukhari, CEO of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee, Haras Rafiq of the Sufi Muslim Council and former Hizb-ut-Tahrir leader Ed Husain.

 

Q8. What about the London Evening Standard online poll?

A. Early in 2007 the London Evening Standard ran an online poll about the mega-mosque. It was by far the most popular of the various polls the newspaper was running and seemed to show that the majority of people were in favour of the mosque.

However, for once we agree with then-Mayor Ken Livingstone who said that the poll was unrepresentative. Polling industry experts do not see this poll as scientific or serious, as any individual could vote as often as he/she wished and there was nothing to stop people outside the UK participating. It was reported to us that Muslims in India were being encouraged to vote!

 

Q9. And the 10 Downing Street petition?

A. By July 2007 over 280,000 people had signed an e-petition against the mega-mosque on the Prime Minister’s website. It is thought this is the site’s second largest e-petition to date.

The e-petition was criticised by then-Mayor Ken Livingstone for its apparent BNP links, and certainly it was unnecessarily narrow in content (“We the Christian population of this great country England...” – which obviously excluded non-Christians who oppose the mosque, as well as Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh opponents.)

Nonetheless in our view the massive enthusiasm for the e-petition does reflect the genuine concerns of mainstream middle-Britain and therefore is to be welcomed.

 

Q10. Does Tablighi Jamaat have terrorist links?

A. The association between Tablighi Jamaat and Islamic violence (or jihadism) will be explored in greater detail elsewhere on this website.

Tablighi Jamaat claims to be non-political and non-violent. But certainly this is not the full story. There has been real concern about the radicalising effect TJ teaching has on some young men, preparing them for militant Islamism. The intelligence services in France – where Tablighi Jamaat are particularly strong – have referred to the sect as the “antechamber of fundamentalism” and a “fertile breeding ground for terrorism”.

The New York Times reported (14 July 2003) that the FBI international terrorist section “found that al-Qaeda used them (TJ) for recruiting now and in the past.”

A militant jihadi group like Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, which in October 2005 was banned by the UK government under the Terrorism Act 2000, can claim that “our people are mostly impressed by the TJ. Most of our workers come from the TJ.”

Close links have been noted between Tablighi Jamaat and a number of suspects arrested in connection with the August 2006 airline terror plot.

Friends and neighbours of July 2007 Glasgow car bomb suspects Kafeel and Saheel Ahmed are reported to have told how the brothers changed dramatically when they joined Tablighi Jamaat in their home town in Bangalore, India.

 

Q11. Is it true the mosque site at West Ham is contaminated? Is it a health hazard?

A. Yes. The site was previously used by a chemical factory and over the years became much polluted. TJ’s application to Newham Council in 2002 for three extensions to the current small temporary mosque on the site was opposed by planning officers because of health and safety concerns for site users.

A March 2007 Waterman Environmental contamination report was commissioned by TJ representatives at the insistence of Newham Council, and was forced into the public by a Freedom of Information request by a local councillor. Alarmingly, it confirms that the environmental risk of the site, which is still in daily use, is “medium/high” and the risk to current site users from the highly contaminated soils is “potentially significant”.

We believe it is irresponsible of TJ to have continued to use the site since they purchased it in 1996 without addressing the recognised health and safety issues connected with heavy site contamination.

 

Q12. Can you identify some personal experiences of contact with Tablighi Jamaat?

A. Leading Muslim writer and broadcaster Ziauddin Sardar writes in the New Statesman of his own contact with TJ and warns that they have been infiltrated by militant and banned Islamists. Tablighi Jamaat “are not as harmless as most Muslims seem to think.”

“Jazaakallah”, the anonymous wife of a Tablighi Jamaat member, tells the Islamic Research Foundation about how her husband changed “into a mere caricature of a human being” when he joined TJ, and her resulting domestic miseries.

 

Q13. Will the government block the construction of the mega-mosque?

A. There is no evidence that the government has decided to block the mosque, despite rumours to that effect in early 2007.

Indeed, the government has remained studiedly uncommitted, frequently telling enquirers that, as there has been no formal planning application as yet, no comment can be made.

In January 2009 Lyn Brown, Labour MP for West Ham and Gordon Brown supporter, hosted a meeting at the House of Commons to facilitate the mosque trustees’ presentation of their project to a group of Newham community and church leaders. Her willingness to actively support the Mega Mosque illustrates where Labour’s sympathies lie.

There is no evidence that the Conservatives will oppose the Mega Mosque either.

 

Q14. Why did a secretive separatist sect like Tablighi Jamaat decide to employ a modern western PR agency like Indigo Public Affairs?

A. It does seem inconsistent. The question will be more fully answered elsewhere on this website, but the key lies in (a) TJ’s determination to get their mosque built in the face of growing public opposition; and (b) the arrival on the scene at the end of 2006 of Muslim property developer Sohail Sarbuland, who is sympathetic to the TJ mosque cause but not a TJ member himself.

Mr Sarbuland runs Crossier Properties Ltd from its HQ in north London. He is the key intermediary between TJ and the modern commercial world. He is managing the present planning process through to submitting the formal planning application to Newham Council, and during early 2007 was responsible for bringing in the triumvirate of Indigo Public Affairs, new architects Allies and Morrison and well-known property consultants GVA Grimley. This put new direction and energy into the whole mega-mosque project, although of course much of the planning work is still being done on the drawing board and behind the scenes.

Latest Locals Leaflets

Download PDF leaflet

Secretary of State, Greg Clark, refuses the appeal of the mosque trustees
Massive Step Forward as Secretary of State Refuses Appeals from Mosque Trustees

What can I do?

Donate



Follow us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up

Stay informed on our latest news!

Contact

Newham Concern Limited
Tenison House
Tweedy Road
Bromley
Kent
BR1 3NF

Phone: 07957 209456

Text: 07957 209456

Email us here »