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Page last updated at 07:49 GMT, Tuesday, 23 February 2010
Muslim body MPAC unhappy with mosque backlash
Mosque building
A decision is being awaited on turning the school into a purpose-built mosque

By Catrin Nye
BBC Asian Network

The Muslim Public Affairs Committee has criticised a Facebook campaign against the building of a mosque in Surrey.

A Bengali association in Camberley has submitted plans to the council to replace a Victorian school house with a purpose-built mosque.

But an escalating row over the proposal has now seen more than 7,000 members join a Facebook group against it.

MPAC spokesman Abid Satwilkar said: "If it was another religion or building, you wouldn't get this backlash."

The Facebook group describes Islam as "Satan's religion" and includes other derogatory comments.

"Because of the negative connotations associated with Islam and Muslims people say, 'we don't know what sort of people will use the mosque and we don't know what will be taught'," added Mr Satwilkar.

A lot of the Muslim community have been living here for the last 50-60 years and this whole issue makes us nervous and concerned for our society
Abdul Mojid, chairman of Surrey Bengali Welfare Association

"It's because of that these things get very negative publicity and you'll get some people that are, perhaps, quite neutral that are against a mosque being built."

Local politicians from UKIP, Labour and Conservative parties have voiced their objections about the plans, while the BNP has also come out against it on its website.

Surrey Heath Borough Council have yet to set a date for a final planning decision on the proposal to replace one of its 330 locally listed buildings.

The Bengali Welfare association say they need the mosque because they need a building that is fit for purpose as the school currently being used does not have the facilities to accommodate the 1,500-2,000 local Muslims who want to use it.

Abdul Mojid is chairman of Surrey Bengali Welfare Association and he cited that the whole situation is upsetting for local Muslims.

"A lot of the Muslim community have been living here for the last 50-60 years and this whole issue makes us nervous and concerned for our society," said Mr Mojid.

MPAC believes the reaction to the building of the mosque is reflected across the United Kingdom and say that it is the responsibility of both Muslims and non-Muslims to open up mosques and allay fears over their religion held by the general public.

"Muslims should invite people to ask questions about Islam, even difficult questions about the practices of Islam that some may not agree with or understand."

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