A right to worship

PUBLISHED: 10:53 12 November 2009 | UPDATED: 14:39 06 May 2010

SIR – I was really disappointed by the content of the letter Mosque concerns (Herts Advertiser November 5). Weren t most of the 1,400 years of Christian supremacy in this country regarded as the Dark Ages? Times when serfdom ruled. When common folk wer

SIR - I was really disappointed by the content of the letter 'Mosque concerns' (Herts Advertiser November 5).

Weren't most of the 1,400 years of Christian supremacy in this country regarded as the Dark Ages? Times when serfdom ruled. When common folk were sent to fight the Crusades regardless of whether they wanted to or not.

For 1,200 of those 1,400 years Britain made a small fortune out of the slave trade.

In the days of King Henry V Lollards were tortured and burnt at the stake for having slightly different Christian beliefs to the Crown.

When King Henry the Eighth wanted to divorce his first wife he founded the Church of England. In those days both Roman Catholics and Jews could be burnt at the stake as heretics.

A century or two later the Quakers left for America because Britain was not a safe place to live.

During the Reformation Presbyteri-ans were treated like lepers. Their nickname was the blackmouths because they were forced out into the wilderness to live, and their main diet was blackberries and anything else they could scavenge.

Not to mention the days when Oliver Cromwell ruled with an iron fist.

Instead of suggesting Britain follows the example of Islamic countries where there is little or no religious freedom, the person whose name and address was supplied, should thank God that he or she lives in a country which sets such a wonderful example of democracy and religious freedom.

PATRICIA MAZIANE

(A Christian with a Muslim spouse)

Central Drive, St Albans

SIR - I am sorry but unsurprised at the letter printed recently regarding the proposed mosque in London Colney ('Mosque concerns', Herts Advertiser November 5).

This anonymous writer exclaims "1,400 years this was largely a Christian country before a single Muslim set foot here" ... "we are faced with Islamisation on a grand scale". These rants are bigoted and xenophobic, but in vogue with the growing wave of public hostility to Islam currently being whipped up by the mass media.

Our very own Herts Advertiser set the ball rolling about the London Colney place of worship by calling it "a controversial plan..." (November 2) and Anne Main clearly trying to distance herself from her expenses and second home debacle suggests plans for the mosque "be scrutinised fully". Her impartiality is comforting.

Born and bred in St Albans, I have been reminded frequently that an integral part of being British is surely upholding prized shared values including the freedom of religion, the right to live our lives as we wish and to be free from being discriminated against based on one's race or religion.

If it is in compliance to planning law, so what if there are more mosques?

The author suggests no more planning permission should be given to mosques - do people suddenly turn Muslim because there is a new mosque in the area?

Are we collectively so insecure that we have to resort to kangaroo court anti-social libertarianism?

Such views are no different to what prosecutors in the Hague were condemning Radovan Karadzic, a war criminal and mass murderer, of "harnessing the forces of nationalism, hatred and fear" to pursue his vision of a state without Muslims.

The Muslim community of London Colney simply require a place of worship within the confines of planning law, not world domination.

ABDUL HAKIM

Sutton Road, St Albans

SIR - With reference to the letter regarding the application for an Islamic Centre in London Colney:

My view is that we live in a multi-cultural society which brings a rich and diverse environment where everyone has the right to practise their religion in peace and harmony. No one has any superiority over any other community.

It is only when one race or people recognise themselves as superior will they then discriminate and seek to limit the rights and practices of a minority in the general society.

My view is that we have been invited to this country at a time when the country needed economic migrants to do the work that was refused by the indigenous population. We have been given residency and the same rights and we have paid the taxes and contributed to the whole country. Now we look to apply for an Islamic Centre to practise our faith and promote community cohesion and harmony with the locality- what's wrong with that?

There are many churches and a large Christian minority population in the Middle East. They are respected and protected for their beliefs. All you have to do is look at the one million Christians in Iraq, the 10 Million in Egypt, the Christians in Jordan. Research into the legacy of the Moors in Spain. Visit Jerusalem, Bethlehem and see the churches there and the surrounding areas despite it being a Muslim predominance for 1,400 years.

The only country that has no resident Christian population is Saudi Arabia and consequently has no churches. So please have a balanced view and do not base your opinion on one Fiefdom country out of many Muslim countries.

M N SOHAWON

Beaumont Avenue, St Albans

SIR - I am writing to ask why the letter entitled 'Mosque concerns' was anonymous. If the writer chooses to air such xenophobic and inflammatory views, in the guise of a discussion of a local town planning issue, surely we can expect him to have the courage of his convictions and identify himself.

Needless to say, the writer's argument was both illogical (condemns religious intolerance in other countries yet wishes to preclude it in own) and ignorant (I have personally attended weddings and Christenings in churches in many Muslim countries). One can't help but imagine, were it any longer, it would probably end with a rant against current immigration policy and no doubt, contain the words "it's political correctness gone mad".

I invite whoever wrote this letter to come forward and explain why they deserve anonymity.

CLARE STEVENS

Old Harpenden Road, St Albans

SIR - The writer of the letter headlined 'Mosque concerns' (Herts Advertiser November 5) talks a lot of nonsense. The idea that Britains Christian heritage receives no encouragement is wrong.

Children are taught Christianity in schools (regardless of their parents religion), bishops have seats in the House of Lords and Church of England buildings have long had ecclesiastical exemption from planning regulations.

There are approximately 1,400 mosques in the UK as opposed to 44,000 churches - hardly "Islamisation on a grand scale". I fail to see what the state of churches in Muslim countries has to do with planning permissions in London Colney, but personally, so long as planning guidelines are followed, and what goes on inside is legal, I don't want to see the council dictate what anyone uses a building for.

ROB SMITH

Prospect Road, St Albans


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