Source: The New York Times
Disputes over mosques have broken out across Europe. Residents from Belgium to France to Germany have expressed unease at minarets competing in the urban landscape with the spires and stones of centuries-old cathedrals.
But the fight raging over an abandoned lot in London’s East End is of an altogether grander scale. A large and secretive Islamic sect proposed building what would have been the largest mosque in Europe, smack at the gateway to the 2012 Olympic Games, and within sight of London’s financial district.
That plan was sent back to the drawing board to be scaled down, but not before raising a furor of equal size and discomforting questions about the right of Britain’s Muslims to take up a public space commensurate with their growing numbers.
This summer on the Web site of Prime Minister Gordon Brown, more than 250,000 critics of the proposed mosque supported a petition initiated by a backer of the conservative British National Party. Some of them said a large mosque had no right to exist in such a prominent place in a Christian country.