Mega-mosque in east London blocked
Plans to build a "megamosque" in east London have been blocked by the Government, ending a 16-year battle, the Daily Telegraph reports.
The controversial plan from the Islamic Tablighi Jamaat sect would have created a mosque three times the size of St Paul's Cathedral near the Olympic Park in east London. It would have accommodated 9,300 worshippers in two gender-segregated prayer rooms and occupied 290,000 square foot.
The scheme was rejected by Newham local council in December 2012 but Tablighi Jamaat, a sect which has been accused of having links to extremism, appealed. Government ministers have delayed announcing their verdict to the political sensitivity of the case which has included street protests, accusations of racism and even death threats against the main protester.
However sources close to Greg Clark, the communities and local government secretary with whom the final verdict lies, have said he has made the decision to block the scheme.
"This proposal has created a great deal of division in Newham," said one insider.
"That would get a lot worse if the thing was built."
If the decision is confirmed it will end a bitter and controversial planning battle.
During the local planning process, supporters of the mosque formed the Newham People's Alliance (NPA) and blockaded the council offices where the decision was being made.
The NPA organised a vicious campaign against the mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales and called him "Dirty Robin," as well as a zionist and a racist. The group has several link to Lutfur Rahman, the disgraced former mayor of Tower Hamlets who was disqualified for corruption and vote-rigging.
Alan Craig, a former Newham councillor who led the campaign against the mosque, was subject to death threats. A video obituary entitled "In memory of Councillor Alan Craig" was made featuring Craig, his wife and two daughters. A link to the video appeared on the mosque's website.
Opposing protests by white extremist groups such as the BNP and the EDL were organised against the plans.
Tablighi Jamaat, which already runs a temporary mosque for 2,500 worshippers on the same site, is an ultra-conservative Islamic group. It believes the Muslims should not intergrate into an non-Islamic society and its headquarters in West Yorkshire runs a school which bans pupils from watching television, playing music or speaking to outsiders.
Links between Tablighi Jamaat and terrorism are debatably with many experts saying the group is peaceful. However a number of extremists have Tablighi Jamaat connections in including two of the London 7/7 bombers.
An official statement from Greg Clark is expected shortly.