March 11, 2008

BNP campaign raises race-hate fears

Fears are rife that racial tension could erupt in Solihull following a campaign by the BNP against plans for a Muslim community centre.

For 25 years Solihull Muslim Community Association (SMCA) has been searching for a home in the borough to no avail. Now the group has applied for planning permission to establish a cultural centre, which includes a prayer hall, in Dog Kennel Lane, Shirley, with 50 parking spaces.

However, the plans, which also include a wudu room for washing before prayer, have resulted in the Far Right BNP posting leaflets in the area claiming there is an "Islamification" of Solihull. The leaflet states that if the plan is given the go-ahead by Solihull Council it will lead to "conflict" and "discontentment".

A mother-of-three, who lives near the proposed centre, contacted the Birmingham Mail saying she feared the leaflet could provoke racism.

"I felt sickened when that leaflet came through my door," said the woman, who did not wish to be named. "I don't want the centre to be built in Dog Kennel Lane because I'm concerned about overspill parking into surrounding roads and I know other people are worried about the same thing. But for the BNP to seize on these objections and attack the plan on the grounds of race and religion is disgusting. Since that leaflet appeared I've heard people saying property prices will go down, which is ridiculous and dangerous. We all get on really well around here but I'm worried this might stir things up."

Dr Issam Ghannam, of SMCA, dismissed the BNP saying it had "lost its way".

"They don't take into account that there are a lot of British Muslims. In our group we have 23 different nationalities including Australian, British, Welsh, Scottish, Bangladesh and Indian. We welcome everyone," he said. "We need a base to run activities and the cultural centre will include a praying hall and a lecture hall."

Dr Ghannam added that they had been searching for a base since 1983 and although they had submitted the application, they would be fine tuning it.

BNP deputy leader Simon Darby, denied the group was stirring up hatred.

"We have a lot of support in Solihull and there will be a record number of candidates standing at this year's local election," he said.

A police spokesman said they were looking into the matter and investigating what impact the leaflet has had on the community.

Birmingham Mail

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Time to arrest racists for inciting religious and racial hatred once again, me thinks, but if they were to go on trial, the system would let them off, as the BNP are state.