Oxfordshire mosque plans dashed after arson threat

31st Mar 2013

Elham Asaad Buaras

Plans to open a small mosque in Oxfordshire have been scrapped after an anonymous caller hinted he would burn the building down.

A planning application to convert a small retail unit in Chipping Norton, West Street, into a prayer room was approved by West Oxfordshire District Council in February.

But just days later, the landlord received a phone call in which he said the caller implied the mosque would be burned down if it opened.

George Wissinger, had agreed to rent out the ground floor of the retail unit to the Muslim community but now said he is not prepared to risk the safety of tenants who occupy a flat on the first floor of the building.

Wissinger, said: “I had one phone call. They just said ‘if you go ahead with the mosque it could get very hot. You don’t have to be too clever to know what that means’.”

Chipping Norton Town Councillor, Tahirul Hasan, has campaigned for many years for a prayer room in the town to accommodate west Oxfordshire’s growing Muslim community.

He said the threat was “unbelievable” but said the community – which currently meets in the town hall for Friday prayers – would not give up on its campaign to find a permanent home.

“It’s terrible news after all our hard work, one phone call has changed the whole thing. It’s not even a mosque it’s just a prayer room where we are going to pray for ten minutes,” he said.

Hasan told The Muslim News he will be speaking to Prime Minister, David Cameron, who is also MP for Witney, Oxfordshire, next month to discuss his concerns.

Chipping Norton police officers are investigating the incident.

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