Report from an APP member:
On or around the 28th of February this year it was announced that the Newcastle Muslim association had bought a parcel of land 2.4 acres for 1.3 million dollars at Elermore Vale.
This Mosque would be a large development and would make drastic changes to the area, such as traffic problems and the influx of Islamic worshipers who would not necessarily culturally mix well with the locals.
As it was an area that I had worked in as a tradesman, and also knowing people in the area that I grew up with and remained friends with, I was concerned about the impact on the area. I approached friends and shop owners and was not surprised to hear that they disagreed with the development and knew what the outcome would be in the future of local business.
I also made contact with a local business owner who has his premises directly across the road from the purposed Mosque. This gentleman told me that his concerns were so serious that he had started a petition and was seeking several avenues of legal advice.
APP members letterbox dropped APP leaflets in the area and we were approached by numbers of residents as we letterbox dropped, inquiring with concern about the proposed mosque.
The APP Hunter Valley convener also made the local TV news in an interview highlighting the announcement of the proposed Mosque and spoke about parking and traffic issues and the fact that the area would change demographically with the influx of Islamic worshipers wanting to move into the area to be close to the proposed Mosque.
In the last two months, the Newcastle Muslim Association lodged a DA submission of their proposed Mosque (with a price of $6,645,000), which frankly was completely out of proportion with the existing usage of the area.
Residents had big concerns with both parking and traffic. To further compound problems and the concerns of the residents, the proposed Mosque is to have a funeral parlour, morgue, community hall, double storey car park (to hold some 300 cars) as part of the development, and of course the Mosque itself. It would be the only one of its size outside of Sydney Mosques.
Their DA submission was lodged on the 25th of August, and within 5 days the local Newcastle City council members were inundated with numerous submissions of complaint from local residents and shop owners. So many in fact, that it was proposed by the councilors to have a question time on Saturday morning, 4th September 2010, which went for over an hour and there was not one resident there that supported the proposed Mosque. This meeting was attended by some 100-150 residents, who fired a barrage of question at the only two councilors to turn up. Other councilors who were elected to this ward failed to turn up without explanation, which makes one wonder whether this matter to them is a foregone conclusion.
The two councilors who did attend tried to fob off the people by saying that a development over a certain price goes to a state government appointed board of three independent people that would judge the DA on its merits. Also at the meeting, one councilor said he was looking forward to such a big influx of Muslims into the area and the construction of the Mosque, thereby not relieving the fears of the concerned residents.
The only concession that residents achieved from the councillors was that they would change to a two week extension for objection time to the DA submission which means APP will now have more time to highlight this issue with local residents, in the media and on the internet.
Also after making inquiries and looking over previous news articles I found out that in 2007 the Newcastle Muslim Association board was replaced by a younger more radical group with links to the Arab Wahhabi group.
“Up to 150 university students from Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Egypt who follow the fundamentalist Wahabbism ideology were central to the overthrow at the weekend of the executive board of the Newcastle Muslim Association.”
“Radical international university students are posing a greater security threat than hardline sheiks by spreading extremist messages at Australian mosques and prayer halls.The former chairman of John Howard’s Islamic reference board, Ameer Ali, said some international students needed to be stopped from poisoning the minds of local Muslims. “The danger here is that universities are becoming the hotbeds for fundamentalist views among students,” he told The Australian”.
Now that the pieces are falling into place about who the Newcastle Muslim Association is run by and their intentions. It has been said that this proposed Mosque will be the epicenter of all Mosques in the New South Wales region.
This matter is of utmost concern and I urge fellow patriots and APP members to support local residents and shop owners of Elermore Vale – and to assist our campaign to halt the building of this mosque.