The mega mosque petition (updated)

Lately Jamal at Radical Muslim has been posting requests for people to sign a petition to the UK Prime Minister asking him to approve the construction of the Abbey Mills mosque. Several people have objected, because he has posted his requests on blog entries which have nothing to do with the subject, even on my tech blog. I had a look at the petition, submitted by one Joseph Ashworth, and quickly decided that I won’t be signing it. The reason? It has no hope of being taken seriously because it is so stupidly worded.

The petition is to “Go forward with plans to build a £100 Million mega Mosque”, which accepts two of the straw-man arguments of those who oppose the mosque. It’s not supposed to be a “mega mosque”, but primarily (after the two-week Olympics are over) a place for the Tablighi Jama’at to hold their weekly study meetings, and as for the cost of construction, the mosque’s website does not give any indication of how much it might cost; they simply say “it is too early to say”. The figure might have been an estimate of how much the Mangera-Avars monstrosity might have costed, but the mosque’s website earlier stated that they had abandoned that idea (they have since deleted those words, but here’s the cached version at Google), and there is no reference to it on the site now.

The petition was obviously not started by a Muslim, and thinks that having such a petition will show what a tolerant people we are, but nearly all the signatories are Muslims, which really defeats the object of it. Surely Muslims should be starting their own petition, if that is the way to go about this - but it should not be to demand a “£100 mega mosque”, as if any mosque should cost that much, but to ask that the decision on whether or not to build it not be swayed by pressure from ill-informed bigots. In any case, the Prime Minister is not the person who deals with local planning applications; the responsible parties are the Olympic authority and the local council’s planning department - the local council being that of Newham borough in this case.

Update: Jamal has now posted a libelous tirade against me on his own blog (see trackback below). He has insinuated that among the alleged 2,500 Muslims’ signatures on the anti-mosque petition is mine, and it is not. He has insinuated that I am on the payroll of the BNP or the Zionists, which I am not. He in fact knows my position on the so-called mega mosque, which is that I support the plan, with reservations. I know he has read what I’ve written before on the subject, because he’s linked to it in this article.

He insists on calling it the “Mega Mosque”. This is the name its bigoted opponents coined for it. The rest of us call it the Markaz, Masjid Ilyas or the Abbey Mills Mosque. The name “mega mosque” derives from the exaggerated claims of a 40,000 to 70,000 capacity, when in fact the capacity is more likely to be around 12,000. Towards the end of his diatribe he takes a pointless side-swipe at sister Ginny for her concern at things the pop singer Akon has said, which she thinks use Islam as an excuse for his immoral behaviour. The occasion for this is that Ginny also objects to his action of posting requests to sign the pro-mosque petition on blog posts which have nothing to do with it, among them this post, about a software release on a blog which is not about Islam. He objects to his postings (I hesitate to call it spamming, because spam is pork which is najasa, but it is basically the same behaviour) being compared to al-Muhajiroun posters, but al-Muhajiroun did exactly that - posted their material where it did not belong. (Sister Ginny has responded here.)

It seems that br. Jamal has a problem with taking things personally as sister Umm Zaid recently wrote at length about many women she knows, so clearly it’s not just women. His reaction reminds me of that of MPACUK when their tactics and their lack of any sense of appropriateness was criticised. The problem with these people is that they make us look like excitable incompetents.

For the record, I support the mosque plan, with reservations: that any foreign money (particularly Saudi money) not have strings attached, such as an understanding of future Saudi influence over the mosque, and that it be a beautiful building, not an “iconic”, “radical” building, because such buildings are usually ugly to look at and unpleasant to work in. It needs to be a credit to us, not an embarrassment, and the same can be said of Muslims who campaign on Muslim issues.

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