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Anti-mosque campaign perpetuates fear, intolerance

Date

As a loyal Canberran, I am disgusted at the way the Concerned Citizens of Canberra have besmirched our reputation as a progressive, tolerant city by stirring up hatred against Muslims in the name of ''social impact'' (''Gungahlin mosque objectors to petition ACT govt'', July 2, p1).

By hiding behind the traditional bigot's white sheet of anonymity, presumably because they fear hordes of wild-eyed jihadists, these people betray their ignorance as well as their cowardice. Anyone who knows anything about Canberra's Muslims is aware that people with advanced degrees and professional qualifications would be disproportionately represented among prospective attendees at this mosque. They would be as likely to engage in acts of religiously motivated violence as the average congregation of geriatric Anglicans.

John Mason, Latham

To label citizens opposed to having a mega mosque imposed on their neighbourhood as racist is nothing but verbal bullying. It appears some of our political class have never left the school yard. Whether this sickening display here, or the antics shown in Federal Parliament lately. We need to investigate whether the planning process was followed, or someone indeed rode rough-shod over local laws. Would it be the first time?

And no, last I looked Australians are not required to invite politicians to their neighbourhood meetings. Not even in Canberra.

Ralf Schumann, Melbourne, Vic

The organised opposition to the construction of a mosque is disconcerting. It's hard to ascertain the true motives of the Concerned Citizens of Canberra, particularly given the lack of transparency about their membership and the somewhat contradictory statements of their spokespeople. The recent reported comments of their spokespeople confirm that their opposition to the proposed mosque has little to do with planning considerations, stating that mosques were ''no-go zones'' and while such an arrangement was appropriate ''in their own country'', it was somehow incompatible with Australian society.

What an extraordinary statement! Mosques are no more ''no-go zones'' than churches are. The status of a mosque in providing a space for Muslims to pray in privacy and dignity should be no different from that of churches for Christians.

Yet, most damning of all, the suggestion that Muslims are somehow not Australian is deeply disturbing. Why do Australia's Muslims have to constantly rationalise their existence each time an application is made for the construction of a mosque or an Islamic school? However they attempt to cloak their objections, groups such as Concerned Citizens of Canberra are perpetuating fear, intolerance and division in our community. We aspire to a society where all are welcomed; that aspiration must become reality.

Muslims have the right to build places of worship without suffering harassment or bigotry. The government is right to pursue this matter; intolerance cannot be ignored. Rather, it must be exposed, challenged and defeated.

Brendan Forde, Gundaroo, NSW

Those concerned about a mosque in Gungahlin have much in common with the ''concerned citizens'' of Lyneham who 30 years ago mounted a campaign against the building of the Buddhist temple in Archibald Street. They used all the same arguments as the anti-mosque campaign, plus the fact that all that chanting would disturb people in the enjoyment of their own pastimes and bring about a decline in property values. I submit that the people of Lyneham have not suffered unduly from having the temple in their midst, nor will the people of Gungahlin suffer from having a mosque.

K. L. Calvert, Chifley

It is tragic to hear the deafening silence from the Catholic Church on the question of a proposed mosque in Gungahlin. The minister of the Uniting Church seems to have been the only voice raised in support of this endeavour.

Fear of, and prejudice against, people of different race and religion take various forms. They need to be condemned as un-Christian and un-Australian.

David O'Sullivan, Bruce

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