Page last updated at 19:33 GMT, Thursday, 16 April 2009 20:33 UK

Man responds to mosque criticism

Abdul Salam
Mr Salam said people "need to learn how to live with the community"

A Muslim man behind plans for a mosque in Lichfield says he is disappointed by some people's reaction to the idea.

More than 2,500 people have signed up to a Facebook group objecting to plans to build a mosque for Islamic worshippers in the Staffordshire city.

Mosque proposer Abdul Salam said the Muslim community had grown and he did not understand people's concerns.

Another Facebook group with more than 300 members has been set up in favour of the mosque.

Lichfield District Council said there were 245 Muslims recorded as living in Lichfield in 2001 according to the 2001 census, but it had not yet received a planning application for a mosque.

'Don't care'

Mr Salam, who has lived in Lichfield for 25 years, said there had been other criticism, including people swearing at his son who runs a restaurant.

Responding to the opposition, the businessman added: "They need to learn how to live with the community. Today around the world [it's a] multi-cultural society everywhere you go."

He said it was ridiculous to suggest a mosque could damage the city.

Mr Salam said he was looking for a small house, hall or library to use as a permanent mosque until enough money was raised to build one, which could cost £1m.

'Perfectly content'

The Diocese of Lichfield said it was "appalled and saddened" by comments on Facebook.

Spokesman Gavin Drake said: "As Christians we wish to tolerate and welcome the right of all people of all faiths to worship in the way that they feel appropriate to them.

"Questions about where the mosque should be and what it should look like, that's a matter for planners."

District council leader David Smith said: "If someone wants to build a mosque in Lichfield, the same with any building at all, everyone is treated equally."

He added: "If someone was looking at building something within the conservation area of Lichfield, that has very, very strict design requirements."

Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant, said he was "perfectly content" with a mosque being opened in Lichfield.

But he said: "The promoters of the idea are asking for amplified calls to prayer and domes and minarets in the conservation area. That, I believe, would be unacceptable to the majority of my constituents and is also unacceptable to me."

The BBC has tried to contact the founder of the Facebook group.

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