Gove’s unprincipled mosque stand

“Michael Gove’s decision to oppose the building of a new mosque in his constituency is an attempt to silence political opponents.”

Analysis of readers comments on the above Guardian Cif post by Alan Hiliar 15 February 2010 – See full post here

The great majority of Guardian Cif readers don’t agree with Mr Hiliar. They overwhelmingly (73%) support Mr Gove. An analysis of the recommendations (votes) given to first 50 comments made on Mr Hiliar’s post is given below. Mr Hiliar is the LibDem prospective parliamentary candidate for Surrey Heath.

Analysis of first 50 comments
Type of comment Votes %
For Michael Gove
– doubtful or against the mosque
1217 73
Neutral/unclassifiable 93 5
For Alan Hiliar – for the mosque 364 22
Total 1674 100

The single biggest category of vote winning comments are those that say in so many words:

… the issue is largely to do with planning and local objections to the destruction of a bulding of some historical interest and its replacement with something totally out of character with the area.

A lesser number refer to:

…. the nature of Islam and the fact that you can’t build a church in Saudi Arabia, and in many Islamic majority countries other religions are hindered or supressed. These are often prompted by comments supporting Mr Hiliar claiming that the objection to the mosque is all to do with islamophobia.

There are over 200 comments in total and the extracts below are representative of those supporting Mr Gove.

maleEdale – 219 votes
[Alan Hiliar said][First, he seems to want to placate those whose opposition stems from a deep antipathy to Muslims generally.]

What evidence can you provide for this assertion? Perhaps Gove and the majority of residents want to maintain the character of their area. It is concievable that they simply do not want their environment to represent Tower Hamlets, though I’d imagine Multi-culturalists have a problem understanding this (“It must be Islamophobia”!)

Peason1 – 167 votes
[Alan Hiliar said][‘Surely a key test of an MP should be that he or she does not bend in the wind and shows some principle when it comes to dealing with controversial issues?’]

Surely a key test of an MP is that he or she does what his or her constituents want.

ThorHammer – 95 votes
what facts do you have to back up your claim that Gove’s stand is unprincipled. Just becuase you do not agree does not mean it is unprincipled, It is like …. saying anything that does not go “muslims” way is “inslamophobic”

Anglophobia – 99 votes
[PaulMetcalf01 said][“What next ….will Gove request Muslims to leave the country for social cohesion?”]

It would be unfortunate if he did, but I do hope he changes immigration policy and dismantles the apparatus of multiculturalism to help with social cohesion.

Anglophobia – 96 votes
…. It may have escaped his notice that we do allow mosques, that they are growing in number, and that the building in question already IS a mosque in all but appearance.

It may have escaped his notice that Copts are badly persecuted in Egypt …., that many Islamic countries do not allow churches, ban proselytizing on pain of death, kill people who convert away from Islam (a policy supported by one-third of young British Muslims, according to a poll), and have massively oppressive blasphemy laws.

Novelist – 115 votes
When the Saudis permit non-Muslims to build their own places of worship in Saudi Arabia should be the time to allow Muslims to build mosques in the UK. Non-muslims are not even permitted to follow their own faith in Saudi Arabia, let alone build a temple or church.

Mr. Gove, you have got it right, sir, and I salute you.

Anglophobia – 107 votes
[Limone said][“They’re asking to build a place of worship for local citizens. Nothing more.”]

They already have a place of worship: the building as it is. Why should their desire to knock the building down be treated with kid gloves? Why should their architectural tastes trump the desire of other locals to keep a lovely old building? As you can see from above, people would oppose tearing down the building if a Tescos were going up. Why should a traditional Victorian building be doomed because it’s a request for a mosque rather than a Tescos?

maleEdale – 32 votes
….. Political Islam is an energized (saudi funded) aggressively expansive political ideology . It poses a threat to secular values that flakey Anglicanism and inward-directed Judaism do not. That it is so is reflected in the rise of secular Muslim groups (more power to them!) and the volte-face of former fatwa-supporter Inyat Bungalawala (who’s now so moderate and tolerent he could be an Anglican minister;), who are, bravely and correctly, trying to regain ground claimed by the anti-integrational, Wahabbi politicized movement.

Matthelliwell – 23 votes
[cheveguara said][Moslems have been living in this country for centuries and if they want to build a mosque in their community why shouldn’t they?]

Because building it involves knocking down a locally listed building and building something out of keeping with the surroundings in a conservation area. And yes I would object if it was Tescos, a block of flats or something else. In 2002 they already had planning permission to extend behind the school so the foot print would be as large as the new plans. They even got as far as laying the footings. Everyone was happy enough with this plan. Its only when it was proposed knocking down the school that people started to object.

Despite the implications in the article it is possible to object to the application without being a racist.

Monnie – 25 votes
[cheveguara said][Moslems have been living in this country for centuries and if they want to build a mosque in their community why shouldn’t they?]

Because it isn’t their community. It’s a shared community.

CrowBlack – 30 votes
Mr Hiliar declares himself to be “content to let the local council make the decision on planning grounds alone”, in which case it is inexplicable that he should choose to castigate Michael Gove, but have no harsh words for the Councillors, who without offering one single planning argument, decided to overturn the recommendation of the professional planning officers to refuse consent on grounds of local, area and national planning policy.

Is it really so impossible for Mr Hiliar to comprehend that far from being goaded into a response by UKIP, he is in fact, finally responding to the majority of his constituents who do not want to lose another much-loved local building that reflects the history of our town and lends itself perfectly to the other buildings within the conservation area.

Any controversy is only about the building and the inexplicable decision taken by the Planning Applications Committee to ignore the Planning Officer’s detailed report which set out extremely robust reasons for refusing the application. I am still shocked that the Councillors did not offer a single reason in planning terms for their extraordinary action.

Whilst declaring that Mr Gove’s sudden intervention is an attempt to pander to his anti-Euro constituents, Mr Hiliar has proved himself to be deaf to the majority of residents of Surrey Heath, and blind to the facts of this matter.

PrejudicedSlur – 5 votes
…. However it is also true that the Muslims, who are applying for this planning permission, have a clear objective in their mind, which is to create a demonstration effect by erecting domes and/or minarets etc.

Interestingly, to the best of my knowledge, Islam does not support any sort of iconoclism (which should include domes and/or minarates). Had the planning officers sought proper advice in this regard, they could have easily rejected this application considering it an unnecessary symbolic practice, which has nothing to do with the practice of this particular religion.

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