Dudley is a large town in the West Midlands, England, with a population of 194,919. Since 1974 it has been the administrative centre of the wider Metropolitan Borough of Dudley. It is the 19th largest settlement in England measured by Urban Sub-Area, the second largest town in the United Kingdom It is the largest town in the most industrialized part, commonly known as Black Country, of UK.
The Muslims of Dudley were using a building at Castle Hall as a mosque, from 1978, for offering prayer (namaj). This current building, formerly St Edmunds School House, is a grade II listed as a heritage building. Later on, the Muslim leaders declared the current facility too small for congregation and, during the mid 2000s, they placed a plan for the construction of a new mosque on the site of a derelict factory formerly owned by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. of near the Dudley Southern By-Pass. The current mosque on Castle Hill, which is a converted school as mentioned above, has capacity for around 470 worshippers. The new mosque will increase the capacity to 750 worshipers, with a separate area for women accommodating 300 worshippers in the balcony.
Underground parking has been added to the plans following consultation with local residents. The plans were shelved in early 2007 by request of Dudley Council, amid fears of racial tension in the forthcoming elections, but were revived a year later, and the controversy over the proposed mosque has attracted much heated debate from many quarters, as well as national media attention. Local residents fear the sheer size of the mosque will upset the infrastructure of the town centre and cause major traffic problems.
The present site of Goodyear Tire and Rubber factory, has been closed in the early 1990s and was demolished. Later on, the a major portion of the site has been occupied by the Dudley Southern By-Pass which opened in 1999. The application for outline planning permission was recommend and approved by the council officers, but then rejected by the elected officials of Dudley Council’s development control committee in 2007.
In this regard, Wikipedia says, “The following year outline planning was granted on appeal to the Planning Inspectorate. Dudley Council appealed against the decision and the case was heard at the High Court in July 2009. In March to April 2010, there were many arguments about building the Mosque. There was a big protest in Dudley Town Centre about the argument. In July 2009 the judge backed plans for the mosque and community centre to be built on the condition that it will be open to all members of the community. The Planning Inspectorate also stated it should be “accessible and available to the whole community.” The completion cost is estimated to be ₤18 Million.”
The residents of the locality vehemently opposed to the construction of a giant £18 million mosque and the controversy has attracted attention of the English Defence League (EDL), who protested in Dudley on 4 April 2010 against the proposed construction of the said new Mosque. Despite violence by EDL protesters, and a break-out from the protest area, the massive police operation was able to contain the protesters, with Police hailing the operation a success. The leaders of all the elected political parties in Dudley joined together to condemn the protest, and ask the EDL to stay away. organizationan English far-right single issue group formed in 2009.
English Defence League
The English Defence League (EDL) is basically a patriotic organization and its stated aim is to oppose what it considers to be the spread of Islamism, Sharia law and Islamic extremism in England. The EDL uses street-based marches against what the EDL labels as Muslim extremism. It also states that it opposes only “jihadists“, not all Muslims. Since EDL strongly opposed to Islamization of UK, the Muslim-appeasing political parties and their leaders paint it as a racist Nazi organization and its peaceful protest march on April 4, as a violent movement. Furthermore, it has been reported that it chanted, “We hate Muslims” at pro-Palestinian demonstrators in London on 13 September 2009.
EDL membership figures are not clear. Police estimated that 1,500 to 2,000 EDL demonstrators marched in Newcastle upon Tyne in May 2010. The Scottish Defence League is an offshoot organisation formed to hold demonstrations in Glasgow, while the Welsh Defence League was formed to demonstrate in Cardiff, Newport and Swansea. The EDL also claims to have a “Jewish Division”. In this context, it should be noted that, Dudley is covered by two parliamentary constituencies, Dudley South and Dudley North, The current MPs elected from these seats represent the extremely Muslim-appeasing Labour party.
EDL Members and local Residents’ Protest Demonstration
As the police suppressed the peaceful protest marching the streets, EDL members took to roof-top demonstration.
EDL Web Site says:
Regarding the movement the EDL website said, “Some of our supporters are at present barricaded on the roof of a derelict building near the site of the proposed £18m Mega Mosque in Dudley. They have food and water to last them weeks, and a public address system to give speeches. I believe they even have a Play station! They will be playing the call to prayer to let those who are not bothered by this Mosque know what to look forward to. …. We will never surrender, and we are also true to our word when we say this. The residents of Dudley do NOT want this Mosque, and we will stand shoulder to shoulder with them until this nonsense is over.”
“This is the first of many similar protests we have planned across the country. No one is listening to our concerns, so we have stepped up our campaign. They call us “Nazis” but what about the 22,000 people in Dudley who signed the petition against this Mosque? They must be Nazis too eh? well, we all know what our Government think of anyone who disagrees with their policies behind closed doors”, the campaigners continued.
When one of the protester was interviewed, he said, “Gangs of Muslims are roaming the streets with knives. We have had a lot of feedback from supporters in Dudley, and all are saying the same things, the police are letting this happen. Muslims are being allowed to walk around unchallenged with weapons. Knives, bricks, you name it. What is going on in this Country? There are hundreds of police there, but none seem to be doing anything about them. I will take this back if there are reports that hundreds of Muslims have been arrested for carrying weapons tomorrow, but I wont be holding my breath.”
It is really amazing that the police of the Muslim-appeasing government went to arrest the roof-top protesters, but not the Muslim gangs roaming the streets with weapons. It is a nice example of the fact to show that in a country run by a Muslim-appeasing government, the indigenous people are turned into second grade citizens, while the Muslims are raised to the first grade.
However, the good news is that the mosque proposals were finally scrapped on 3 May 2010 in favour of an expansion to the existing Dudley Central Mosque on Castle Hill. This came the day after two English Defence League members were arrested for staging a rooftop protest at the remaining former Goodyear warehouse on the site of the proposed mosque.
Reaction of the Muslims
Muslim leaders are still going ahead with their controversial multi-million pound mosque in Dudley town centre after abandoning hopes an alternative site will be found. The Dudley Muslim Association (DMA) says it has “no choice” but to prepare a full planning application for a mosque and community centre on land in Hall Street. Chairman Khurshid Ahmed said members could not wait any longer.
The Castle Hill proposal was later ruled out sparking a fresh search for new sites. Mr Ahmed said today: “We have no choice but to go ahead and make a full planning application for Hall Street. I am very disappointed the council have not been able to come up with a viable alternative which would have resolved the issue.”
“We have reached the stage where it’s all systems go. Once we start investing money and commit a budget to making the full application, it will be the point of no return.” he added.A High Court judge upheld the appeal decision. But two petitions against the plan drew more than 50,000 signatures with residents saying no more mosque at Dudley.
In September, the landmark former Gala Bingo building in Dudley town centre was suggested to Muslim leaders as a last-ditch alternative site for a multi-million pound mosque scheme. However, the Dudley Muslim Association (DMA) rejected the site and opted instead to pursue its plan for a mosque and community centre in Hall Street. Councillor Millward said today she was “disappointed” the DMA had not given serious consideration to the Gala Bingo site, adding: “I believed we were progressing quite well with the talks.” Mr Ahmed says he “has not got the support of the community” for the Gala Bingo alternative.
Chairman Ahmed revealed this week that DMA was preparing a full planning application for Hall Street, saying members could not wait any longer for the council to come up with a viable alternative. The DMA has outline planning permission for the scheme, expected to cost £12 million.
The Bingo Hall was the second site in Castle Hill to be considered for the mosque. An announcement in May that a scaled-down mosque proposal in Castle Hill had been agreed is understood to have centred on Castle Hill Casino, not Gala Bingo. The mooted £3m scheme was later ruled out sparking a fresh search for new sites.
Dudley Council has been involved in months of delicate negotiations with the DMA over Hall Street, which has attracted huge protests.