Plans to build a mosque for the Bosnian Muslim community of Perth’s Swan Valley have been almost unanimously rejected by the local council on the grounds it would not fit in with the area’s rural character.
The Australian The proposal for the two-storey mosque with a 70-foot-(21m) high minaret had been strongly opposed by the community, with the City of Swan receiving 139 objections from 143 submissions during a public comment period last year.
Opposition to the building also drew support from the anti-Muslim Australian Protectionist Party. Eleven out of 12 councillors present at a meeting on Wednesday night voted against the development.
But the design is not the problem, according to Swan Valley Progress Association chairman Rod Henderson. He believes the mosques construction would be inappropriate under the Swan Valley Planning Act 1995, which was designed to protect the region from inconsistent developments. “If someone were to come in and buy a block of land to make shoes, for instance, that would be contrary to the Act,” he said. “If someone wants to come in and put up a mosque, that is also contrary to the Act. It should be put up in a suburban lot in an appropriate area. Theres no delineation here, its not a matter of bias.”
Mayor Charlie Zannino said anti-Muslim sentiment had nothing to do with the decision. (HAH!) He said the mosque did not comply with the Swan Valley Planning Act requiring new buildings to fit in with the agricultural nature of the valley, known for its vineyards and restaurants. “It’s a fairly large building, with two storeys, and a minaret at 21m (70′) on a small block. It would have stood out,” Mr Zannino said. “The people living around it had problems with traffic.”
The council has previously approved construction of a Tibetan temple and the Pentecostal Dream Builders Church. But Mr Zannino said they had been built on large blocks and set well back from the road, virtually out of sight.
Bosnian Islamic Society president Sajit Smajic, the mosque’s proponent, said the proposed site had already been zoned for commercial use. He said 85 per cent of Perth’s Bosnian Muslims lived in the area. Smajic said “I think this building can embellish the whole area and can be another attraction for tourists, I don’t think it will make the Swan Valley ugly or that it is out of context with the whole area.” Mr Smajic said the prayer room would be big enough to hold 350 people but the five daily prayer sessions were likely to attract only 20 to 30 people. (Until you import thousands more Muslim illegals aka boat people)
David Fardig , the sole councillor to vote for the mosque, said there were a lot of new Muslim migrants with nowhere to go.(How about Indonesia?)
“A minaret is no different to a cross. It’s just a symbol,” he said. “The religion argument doesn’t wash, it’s no different to a Christian church, and they have a need for it.”(Oh, REALLY?)