The news that the plans to build Europe’s biggest mosque near to the 2012 Olympics site in London’s East End have collapsed must surely be welcomed.
According to The Times today, Tablighi Jamaat, the Islamic sect behind the proposal, is to be evicted from the site, where it has been operating illegally a temporary mosque and had planned a complex that would accommodate 12,000 worshippers.
Predictably enough the Muslim Council of Britain has claimed that the group had fallen victim to “unfounded hostility and hysteria”.
There was certainly hostility; it was impossible to find anybody who thought it a good idea. The cultural symbolism alone of such a massive structure dominating part of the city, and highly visible to all those entering London by air, made most people uncomfortable.
But where was this ‘hysteria’? The Muslim Council lives in a world of its own imagining. Rather, a sense of defeat and resignation characterised most people’s response when the plans first came to light. A well-ordered petition opposing the plans, signed by 48,000 people, hardly constitutes an wave of unthinking, paranoid Islamophobia.