Camberley Mosque 259

As someone who devotes much energy to battling Islamophobia, it is important equally to oppose false cries of Islamophobia whenever any Muslim group is thwarted. Otherwise “Islamophobic” will become a meaningless pejorative just as “Anti-semitic” is thrown at any rational critic of Israel.

Having looked at the dispute over Camberley Mosque, I feel that it is the Bengali community which is acting with gross insensitivity. They wish to pull down a listed Victorian building to build a mosque. I would oppose that were the proposed replacement a mosque, synagogue, church or Tesco.

The old scholl has in fact been in use for many years as an Islamic centre. There is no threat to that. It is demolition of the building which is objected to.

It strikes me that the very large and sturdy building looks ideal for sympathetic internal conversion to make it a better mosque. Failing that, the community can do what anybody else has to do whose needs have outgrown a listed building, and move the mosque elsewhere.

I encountered a similar arrogance and insensitivity from some members of the Muslim community while campaigning on Whalley Range in Blackburn, when I was faced with a demand that a pub close to a mosque be closed down. I replied that the pub had been there for over a hundred years before the mosque.

The deliberate spread of fear and hatred of Muslims by politicians, media and security services is a real problem. But what we must insist is that Muslims are treated both no worse and no better than anybody else.

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259 thoughts on “Camberley Mosque

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  • Suhayl Saadi

    Yes, it’s odd that such a very local issue has become national news. I and our Community Council have been trying for years to reduce the proportion of multiple-occupancy housing – nearly all owned by big business, of course – in my area and also to reduce the number of late-night nightclubs. We get the detritus of all that in the form of reeling, aggressive drunkenness, scratched cars, bottles, etc. It’s not national news, though all of these problems are very common to many of us, I’m sure, esp. those living in towns and cities.

    Things certainly get hijacked all round, I agree.

    But yes, whatever the rights and wrongs of it all, this is national news because of its provenance, as Arsalan suggests.

    Oh, and because it’s in the south of England; anything in the South is big news. A dog coughs in Shepherd’s Bush, it’s big news. That pompous ass, Max Hastings, clone of (fellow-pompous ass) William Rees-Mogg, and his cohorts don’t tend to feel comfortable venturing much north of the M25 perimeter – surely, the metaphysical Hadrian’s Wall of our time. It’s one thing that makes my teeth grind at some Book Festivals, those arrogant voices, slung around in showers of gold and silver, those drawling voices that proclaim an inherent (perceived) superiority. Hastings’s book ‘about Africa’ is ‘Book of The Week’ on Radio Four right now. I sat listening to it after midnight following a long shift at work. The I turned it off. Oh God, do we really need more colonial narratives about ‘Max’ Hastings, ‘Mac’ Hastings and the gung-ho, Boys Own progenitor? “Away wi ye, ye fuckin ijeut, away an shoot some giraffes!”

  • mary

    Yes agree Arsalan. Why give the permissions in January to demolish and rebuild in the first place? They have been rescinded to appease the objectors? There is an election coming!

    Why the presence of the EDL and the Cross of St George flags outside the meeting? The same flags that are draped on our weaponry/killing machines in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    It was never about the school buildings (which are not listed nationally as Grade 1, 2 or 2* etc by the way but listed locally as being in a conservation area). It was always NO MOSQUE just as it used to be NO IRISH or NO BLACKS.

    I live in Surrey and any conversation about the state of the economy, unemployment or similar topic usually brings the response ‘We have too many of them here’ meaning immigrants. There are quite a number of smug fascist types around here. If I put up a Troops Out sign outside I reckon I would have my windows broken.

    Watch the video.

  • Richard Robinson

    “I really think the likes of the UKIP and the BNP couldn’t careless about buildings, listed or otherwise.

    What concerns them, are brown faces, Islamic or otherwise.”

    UKIP seem to be taking it further and disliking most pink faces as well. (As, I’m sure, the BNP would if they ever got rid of the brown ones. They won’t, of course).

  • AJ

    As a British muslim, I do wonder why new mosques in the UK always have to look the same. What works in one part of the world doesn’t necessarily work here. I have yet to see a mosque in this country that makes the slightest effort to blend in.

    Its a design thing and I would love to see someone try to mix it up a little. For example I would love to see a truly English mosque. This school building could be converted sympathetically and set off a trend.

  • dreoilin


    So are you denying that UKIP are a bunch of right wing racist nut Jobs?”


    You’re a ticket. 🙂

  • Parky

    As Craig might have noticed during his travels around Muslim Blackburn, the inhabitants have little intention of fitting in with their surroundings. The area has high levels of rainfall and is normally quite damp. However this does not deter the Asians from wearing garments that would be more at home in a hot dusty climate. Hardly suitable for East Lancs rainfall. Also he may have also noticed the lack of English pubs in these areas as they don’t want to use them either. I would say the reason they design the Mosques in the way they do has more to do with reminding them of “home” which many do not consider to be the UK. Of course if they miss their ancestoral life so much, maybe they would be well advised to get on the plane and relocate there permanently. Also note how many of these Mosques which get planning permission by local councils, wishing to ingratiate themselves and so winning their votes, take years and years to be built. They are often left as eyesores for five or more years until the money can be raised to complete them. Islamification of the UK is well underway and anyone who can’t see that would be advised to visit Specsavers for a check up.

  • Richard Robinson

    And likewise, I worried afterwards if mine might sound like ‘correcting’, where I just meant to continue the amusement. It must be late. Never mind 🙂

  • glenn

    Carl Rove admitted on US TV today that he had supported the use of torture under the previous administration, and was proud of his role in advising it. He said very useful information had been obtained by breaking the will of suspects through ‘water-boarding’. Even though Japanese POWs were executed as war criminals for using the very same practice on US servicemen.

    He went on to say that such information had been used to prevent attacks, such as the one involving Heathrow. Are our security services going to admit to having used this information that is known to have been obtained through torture?

  • Richard Robinson

    “Hardly suitable for East Lancs rainfall”

    Oh, that’s just yer northern club culture thing. They’re ded ‘ard, is all, and trying to relate to them queuing in the snow for the discos in nowt but a pair o’ knickers. Of course, that’s only nostalgia for the good old days on the savannahs of the Rift valley, when we ‘ad proper weather. Mind you, that was before we’d trained up the whippets to behave like hot water bottles, so it wasn’t all as good as they like to make out. But then, nostalgia never was as good as it used to be.

  • anno


    Our monarchs and politicians have succesfully prevented Islam from coming to the UK for a thousand years. They exchanged the inphallability of the Pope with that of Henry Eighth and Tony Bliar still thinks 22% of the votes gave him total, supreme, exclusive control and the right to ignore the wishes of the people.

    I am immensely grateful that Islam has come here, And I’ve joined them. Sometimes you have to check out new things. Maybe they know something we didn’t know before.

  • Richard Robinson

    “Maybe they know something we didn’t know before.”

    I’ll take the whingeing about ‘creeping islamification’ seriously when I see them trying to revert to roman numerals for their arithmetic. Oh, how I’ll laugh.

  • anno


    Carl Rove. After Craig, I heard Phillipe Sands QC give testimony to the JCHR that Bush had decreed that these ‘suspects’ were beyond the scope of the Geneva Convention.

    Has JCHR reported yet? I know anything to do with parliament is slow. They would love to find some new software that would fix all their Trojans of illegal behaviour. Their technique is to bore us into forgetting the crimes of New Labour.

    Who am I to criticise parliament? But there again, Who is George Bush to cancel International Law?

  • Suhayl Saadi

    I would refer ‘Parky’ to a speech delivered last year by the Conservative Party Chairman, Eric Pickles (hardly a political soulmate of mine!) in which he made the excellent point that strong family/ community relationships in West Yorkshire among Asians (predominantly, in those areas, those of Pakistani origin) had helped to save the greater community of Yorkshire from atomisation in the context of the collapse of the textiles industry.

    Yes, I know the Tories were instrumental in destroying manufacturing in this country – but that’s not the point in this illustration.

    Go to Newcastle, Parky, in fact, come to Glasgow. In both wonderful cities – btw, Larry, Britain is a fab place, but you have to be able and willing to critique that which you love, otherwise it’s not true love! – you will see young men in tee-shirts in minus-two degrees and young women in mini-skirts deep in the night’s cold embrace, going animatedly from nightclub-to-nightclub in the city centre.

    I’ve written of clothing mismatches in a self-abnegating (for the character concerned) and lightly humorous manner – read ‘Psychoraag’ or ‘Joseph’s Box’ to find these vignettes – so it’s something I find humorous, but not serious, not ‘go back to where you came from’ material. Otherwise, everyone from Surrey would have to go back to Surrey and from what Mary says, it can be a pretty hairy place to live! I’m sure there are lovely parts of Surrey, wondrous hills and dales and wonderful people there, as there are everywhere. In fact, I know some.

    If anyone wants to read a magical tale of ‘The Holy Land of the South Saxons’ (Sussex), btw, check out ‘The Saelig Tales, on-line.

    I was born in (East) Yorkshire. No-one gets to tell me to go back to where I came from – otherwise I’d be returning to Beverley, esteemed and beauteous home-town of Philip Larkin, that alleged supporter of Enoch Powell et al. How ironic!

  • arsalan


    Islam is what Muslims believe, so if you have Muslims, you have people who believe in Islam.

    Isn’t that obvious?

    now that most Muslims here are born here, sendning them back to where they came from is no longer applicable, because they don’t have citizenship over there.

    So what is the solution?

    Gas chambers?

  • ingo

    There is a green LAM living in Camberwell green, unless she has moved, I wonmder what jenny Jones stance is on this issue.

    If I cannot destroy a listed building and replace it with a golf course or a private house, why should anybody breach planning laws, however shite they may be and however much havoc they have caused with corruption and local shimmying, so its not an issue in my mind and all the conotations attached to this issue inconsequential,imho.

  • mary

    Suhayl – I might have painted Surrey as a racist outpost. There is certainly an air of unquestioning self satisfaction and I am sure that NIMBYism rules. Most of the population probably support ‘our boys’ in Iraq and Afghanistan if the local press is anything to go by. Local issues are of the greatest interest. It is a beautiful county, the most wooded in the country apparently, and the chalk downlands provide lovely views.

    The potholed roads are something to behold as are the vast number of 4 x 4 vehicles. There is bewilderment about the economic collapse as if such a thing should happen to upset their standards of life and the career expectations of their children. Just my observations.

    Take your mind back 1,100 years. This is what happened to ‘foreigners’ then.

    So perhaps we have advanced a little.

  • Vronsky

    Forty years ago, when buses still had conductors, I was travelling near Glasgow. It was an extremely hot day. ‘You’ll be used to this where you come from’ said a lady to the dusky conductress. ‘Whit? Drumchapel?’ was the puzzled answer.

  • tony_opmoc

    Most of the Muslims I know who live round here follow local tradition and have their weekly gathering in our local pub with the rest of us.

    Starts about 9p.m. and the tap water – even with ice is completely free as is the entrance.

    It does get rather loud though, in fact many people – and nearly all the drummers who aren’t already deaf wear ear plugs.

    The beer is expensive though, and not quite as good as Pendle Witch in Lancashire.

    I find it very rare, for anyone to turn down a pint or a short in favour of free water. It has happenned though, and no one bats an eye lid.

    There’s nowt wrong with a decent mosque, provided the artwork is done with love and prayer.


  • Richard Robinson

    “You’ll be used to this where you come from’ said a lady to the dusky conductress. ‘Whit? Drumchapel?'”

    I have 3 grandparents from south-of-Pennines England, and one from Penicuik. Every time I hear this line of thought I end up with visions of spending the rest of my life perched across Hadrian’s Wall with one shoulder pointing north (and hoping no-one spots any ‘Viking DNA’, I never did like swimming).

    Let’s test the theory. Anybody wants to claim to be “Caucasian”, round them up and send them back to the Caucasus, see if it improves things.

    I don’t even think I’m trivialising the issue, I think it really is that daft. Idiocy can be lethal, of course.

  • Henry

    I read that the proposed Mosque would cost £3m to build. At the planning meeting the rep for the Mosque stated that the old school roof leaked and the windows were drafty, I understand that when the school was sold it was in very good repair, which suggests that the old building has been deliberately allowed into decline as an excuse for future demolition. If repairs are needed ? then carry out the necessary repairs.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Tony, I’ll buy you a beer one day.

    Mary, watch out for those 4X4s! And potholes. And Little Islanders.

    Richard, what an LSD image that is: ‘The Janus of the Cheviots’! Sounds like something Michael Scot, Great Magus of the Eildon Hills, would’ve conjured-up. I found your ‘tunes’ site (two sites, in fact), btw – it looked fascinating – I was keen to explore it, but it seems to be being repaired, or transferred, or something?

    Vronsky – brilliant anecdote and absolutely true. All Power to the Conductor! All Power to ‘The Drum’!

  • anno


    My aikido teacher told me to attack him as if I really meant it, for him to react quickly in defence. If you had said you hate Muslims, I would have quickly replied that maybe God doesn’t like you. But as you wrapped it up in street gossip and totally false speculations, I can’t really be bothered to reply to you.

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