Gungahlin: Mosque Phobia Moves to Australia
The phobia surrounding the building of mosques in the West has moved to the Australian capital where a new mosque at Gungahlin city is facing opposition from residents despite the approval of the community council.
(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - “The Council still believes the site is an appropriate one for a Mosque and concerns about traffic will prove unfounded once the proposed ring road system is completed,” the Gungahlin Community Council said in an online statement.
“Until recently there has been no suggestion that there are parking or traffic issues with the Valley Way site.”
The Canberra Muslim Community Inc has submitted a development application to build a 500-seat mosque in Gungahlin city.
Though the Community Council has approved the application, residents have filed complaints with the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) government against the Muslim worship place.
Objectors cited traffic, parking and lack of consultation for opposing the mosque, saying the Muslim worship place was not "compatible with Australian values and Australian law".
One objection to the mosque asked the ACT government if it can “assure the citizens of Gungahlin that this center will not be taken over by extremists, bent on bringing chaos to our immediate community”.
Another Gungahlin resident said the sight of women wearing full-face veil will be “perturbing” for children in the area.
Complainers also argue that the mosque would also affect the integration of Muslims inside Australian society.
“I am particularly worried about the women and girls,” a resident said in a complaint letter.
“In the DA [development application] several rooms are allocated for weekend classes - which means that all the girls from early age on will have Qur’an lessons and therefore will have no real chance to get integrated in Australian society.”
Muslims’ plans to build mosques to fulfil their religious needs have been facing opposition in the West in recent years.
Muslims, who have been in Australia for more than 200 years, make up 1.7 percent of its 20-million population.
Islam is the country's second largest religion after Christianity.
However, many residents were open to welcome the Muslim worship place, dismissing fear-mongering played by extremist voices.
“As a resident of Gungahlin town center I would be materially affected by this development,” a resident said in a submission letter.
“As such I strongly support this development.
“It is appropriate to the town center, an appropriate design and the road network is designed to handle the surges in traffic,” he added.
The resident noted that the new mosque will “complement the two existing churches”, the same idea shared by the Gungahlin Community Council.
“The Council had no objections to the sitting of other religious institutions in the town center and will continue to support the construction of a mosque on the site," the council said in its statement.
Another resident complained about the flyers they received from the Concerned Citizens of Canberra, saying the group's objections to the mosque are “flimsy at best and outright bigoted at worst”.
“Though I am not a religious person I feel that someone should be just as free to build a mosque as a church and having it near Gungahlin town centre seems as good a location as any in the area,” the submission states.
In post 9/11 Australia, Muslims have been haunted with suspicion and have had their patriotism questioned.
A 2007 poll taken by the Issues Deliberation Australia (IDA) think-tank found that Australians basically see Islam as a threat to the Australian way of life.
A recent governmental report revealed that Muslims are facing deep-seated Islamophobia and race-based treatment like never before.