Clayton mosque: Protests ‘not religious’

WHEN Caroline Paterson learned that the nearby Uniting Church objected to a mosque in Beddoe Avenue, Clayton North, for fear it would foster extremism, she wanted to set the record straight and distance residents from the comments.

She and her husband Ian had lodged an objection, as have several neighbours, but she stressed that the issue was definitely not racially motivated.

‘‘We’re not intolerant of any race or any religion,’’ she said. ‘‘We would have the same objection to any building which enables large numbers of people to congregate in a meeting place in a residential street.’’

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Should the mosque go ahead in Beddoe Avenue, or should it be housed on Monash University grounds? Post a comment below.

Monash councillor Geoff Lake wants the resignations of the two senior Uniting Church figures who linked the proposed mosque to extremism.

Cr Lake wrote to the general secretary of the Victoria-Tasmania Synod of the Uniting Church, Reverend Mark Lawrence, to condemn the ‘‘anti-Muslim sentiment’’ of Monash Uniting Church chairman Richard Farrell and Reverend Hoon You and said they were unfit to hold office.

The views were ‘‘totally unacceptable, out of place in 21st century Australia’’ and created and promoted ‘‘division within our community’’.

But Dr Lawrence said the pair would not be dismissed. ‘‘These are not sacking offences so to speak but they are very much opportunities to work together to understand the Uniting Church’s stated positions about seeking to be in respectful relationships with all religions.’’

Mrs Paterson, who has lived with her family in Beddoe Avenue for 15 years, was concerned with the mosque’s location.

‘‘It’s just not appropriate for a street with houses on it,’’ she said.

‘‘We’re concerned about the parking. Monash Uni says ‘we’ll provide parking’, but it’s paid parking. No one wants to pay. I expect them to use Beddoe Avenue again.’’

The Monash University property, at 16 Beddoe Avenue, is used as an Islamic prayer room. Neighbours say that until they asked the council to intervene, their street was often blocked with cars belonging to prayer room patrons.

Long-term resident Paul Walker voiced similar concerns.

‘‘The parking permits around here stop at 6pm,’’ he said. ‘‘If they don’t want to use the ticket machine in the uni to pay for parking, there’s more likelihood they’re going to use this street.’’

Another resident, who did not want to be named, said ‘‘the traffic around here is bad enough’’.

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