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Questions raised about motive of letters opposing city mosque applications

PUBLISHED: 06:30 14 May 2019 | UPDATED: 13:46 14 May 2019

Questions have been asked about the motive of two near identical letters opposing “mosque” applications in opposite ends of Norwich. Photo: Archant/Submitted

Questions have been asked about the motive of two near identical letters opposing "mosque" applications in opposite ends of Norwich. Photo: Archant/Submitted

Archant

Questions have been asked about the motive of two near identical letters opposing "mosque" applications in opposite ends of Norwich.

The letter opposing the Sandy Lane application. Photo: SuppliedThe letter opposing the Sandy Lane application. Photo: Supplied

People living in the Lakenham area were sent leaflets earlier this month in response to plans to build the county's first Islamic cultural centre in the city.

The letter, titled 'Does Norwich need a 2,300 sqft mosque here?', asks people to object, citing parking and congestion as the main reason.

Several months earlier, people living in Dereham Road were sent an almost identical letter after the Norwich and Norfolk Muslim Association sought permission to use a community centre as a place of worship.

Both leaflets share a similar template and wording, but contain no details about who posted them.

Speaking about the latest letter, Julie Bremner, from Norwich Stand Up to Racism, said: "In this case I think it would be naive to think this 'opposition' does not stem from Islamophobia.

"If you can convince me that this letter, which is similar to the ones in opposition to Aylsham and Dereham Road Islamic centres, would be issued if a different religious denomination was opening a centre, perhaps I would reconsider my view."

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The letter sent to homes in Lakenham asked people to object to Al Madinah Ltd's plans to build an Islamic cultural centre at a former hair salon at Sandy Lane.

The proposals seek to address a gap in community facilities for the Asian community in Old Lakenham and the south of Norwich.

There will be homework clubs for school children and a space for worship.

But the opposing letter claims the plans will lead to congestion and that the salon building is a "valuable employment facility and should remain that way".

Al Madinah's application states there will be six parking places and local residents will be encouraged to walk.

Last year, flyers were also distributed to homes in the NR3 area claiming not enough people were told about plans to convert the former King Edward VII pub on Aylsham Road into a mosque.

Norwich City Council and Sirajul Islam, a spokesman for the East Anglian Bangladeshi community, disagreed with the claims.

Ms Bremner said: "I would urge people not to join the opposition.

"Diversity enhances our communities. Racism does not."

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