A WELSH politician has called on people to petition Cardiff Council to approve plans for a new mosque in Canton, despite opposition to the scheme.
A number of residents – backed by Canton councillors and their MP – signed a petition and posted objections to plans to open the mosque on Sanatorium Road, Canton, as previously reported by The Cardiffian.
But at the Interfaith Peace Symposium, held in Cardiff Bay at the weekend, South Wales East assembly member Mohammed Asghar backed the plan and spoke out in support of the Ahmadiyya muslim community who want to build the mosque.
Mr Asghar told the audience: “I have one request to all of you, especially those who are not part of the Ahmadiyya community. Please write to Cardiff Council.
“The planning applications to build the mosque have been going on for two years and it’s just not getting done. That’s my message today, I’d be grateful. Please write a letter to the planning committee.”
Canton labour councillors Susan Elsmore, Richard Cook and Ramesh Patel co-signed a letter protesting against the proposal. Kevin Brennan, Labour MP for Cardiff West, also wrote a letter expressing his concerns.
Both letters warned about the traffic that a new mosque would cause on Sanatorium Road and how it would affect the residents in the area
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Association UK (AMA), who were hosting the symposium, have now released a statement in response to both the petition and an anonymous leaflet which criticised the proposal.
The statement said: “The traffic issue is a misconception. The volume of traffic generated by the mosque will in fact be less than that generated when the premises were used as building maintenance offices.
“Furthermore, with prayers spread out throughout the day, the mosque will generate less rush-hour traffic. The fact that other premises along Sanatorium Road appear to have insufficient parking is no fault of the Ahmadiyya community.”
The President of the AMA’s Cardiff branch is Dr Ataur Rehman Maaz, 49, from St Fagans. He spoke about his disappointment at the media coverage of the planning application.
“Ahmadis in Cardiff are keenly awaiting the outcome of the planning application. We have addressed all technical concerns. Despite the malicious anonymous propaganda, our community is a peaceful group who will only be a force for good in Canton and in Cardiff,” he said.
Mr Asghar, a Conservative AM, agreed. He told the conference: “Certain people are putting hurdles in front of the application but the Ahmadiyya community has done a wonderful job wherever they have gone. Their belief ‘Love for all, hatred for none’ is one of the core beliefs of Islam.”
The Ahmadiyya community was praised by a number of the community leaders and other politicians who spoke at the conference, which was held in County Hall.
Craig Williams, Conservative MP for Cardiff North, said: “I want to thank the Ahmadiyya community for the work that they do for our city.”
Lord Mayor Monica Walsh also paid tribute to the community. She said: “The Ahmadiyya Muslim community presents the true Islam and presents unity, compassion and love for all of mankind.”
The AMA claim that people simply do not understand the proposal. They said in the statement: “We would urge anybody who is interested to read the entire application and supporting documents. These will provide answers to many of the questions and concerns raised.”
The planning application is still being considered by the council. No date has yet been set for a decision but Mr Asghar said that he expects a decision to be reached on December 14.