Page last updated at 08:42 GMT, Friday, 9 October 2009 09:42 UK

Growing Muslim group seeks mosque

Muslim leaders in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk are campaigning to establish a permanent mosque to meet the needs of a growing population of worshippers.

A building for prayer and community events is needed as numbers of Muslims working in the horse racing industry around Newmarket is set to triple.

Stables in the area are employing many grooms and work riders from Pakistan.

Ashan Mohammed, of the Newmarket Muslim Welfare Team, said links with horse racing in Pakistan go back decades.

The British established three race tracks in what is now Pakistan, and because work riders and grooms in the UK have become heavier there is demand for staff from stables there to come to work in Suffolk.

Residency granted

These workers are now beginning to bring their wives and families to the town where they work and it means they need a permanent place for worship.

Religious leaders are lobbying local councils while seeking a suitable site.

Mr Mohammed said: "For Friday prayer we hire Palace House from the council for a couple of hours but after our Ramadan fast, for instance, when there are a lot more people we need a larger space.

"The capacity of our one site was only 400 and we had to turn people away and they went to Cambridge.

"But a mosque is not just for prayer it is also a place where the community can meet and hold events.

"People from other denominations have helped us out and that's a good attitude to have but the growing community needs a place of its own and we are looking for a suitable site.

"Many of the workers will have residency permits over the next few years and they will want to bring their families here and that will triple the Muslim population."

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