Anger over plans to build £50,000 Mosque for just six refugee families on Scottish island
Church leaders have blasted plans to build a mosque for just six refugee families on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland as a threat to their religious and civil liberties.
£20,000 of the £50,000 that is needed has already been raised by a businessman based hundreds of miles away in Leeds, but people within the staunch Christian community are unhappy with the plan to build this place of worship for a comparatively small group of people.
Church leaders of the staunchly-Christian community on the Isle of Lewis, Scotland, have called plans to build a mosque for just six Syrian refugee families a “threat” to “religious and civil liberties”.
Leeds businessman Aihtsham Rashid, who lives more than 500 miles away from the small Outer Hebrides settlement, has already raised more than £20,000 of the £50,000 target to convert a derelict building into a mosque, reports The Herald.
Crowdfunding after Western Isles Council approved a planning application for the first mosque on the Isle of Lewis, which has just 8,000 inhabitants, Mr. Rashid said that he had been “personally requested” to help the “Syrian refugee community”.
“I am aiming to get this mosque up and running by Ramadhan to enable the local Muslims to read their first tarawee prayers,” he wrote on the crowdfunding page.
“Please dig deep and reserve your very own house in paradise. ‘Whosoever shares in building a masjid for Allah, even if it is a small birds nest, Allah S.W.T will build for him/her a house in Paradise’,” the Muslim businessman added, quoting from Islamic texts.
When the local council approved of the planning application for the mosque in Stornoway, the Free Church of Scotland called the decision “a most unwelcome development”.
The staunchly Presbyterian Christian denomination said its main objection was not to the relocated people who have left warzones, but to the Islamic faith itself.
The church said that Islam is “wholly inconsistent” with Biblical teachings and is “opposed to the Christian religion”.
“If a mosque ever opens, Islam will be able to promote itself in our midst through public worship, despite its beliefs and practices being alien to the religious convictions of the vast majority of our community,” a statement from the presbytery read.
“Islam is also incompatible with, and indeed a threat to, our religious and civil liberties,” it added.
It seems that the island’s Presbyterian background has led to local church leaders taking this strong stance, and so it remains to be seen whether or not the plans will ultimately be successful.
However, opponents in other areas of the United Kingdom are bound to watch this story with interest as the outcome could affect other similar planning decisions in the future.
Other branches of the Church have made it clear in the past that they are happy to co-operate with Mosque projects and planning applications of this nature, but others may argue that the area would need a higher number of Muslims first before developing a place of worship.