'Mosque-buster' advises residents how to block Golders Green Hippodrome application
PUBLISHED: 17:41 24 October 2017 | UPDATED: 09:52 26 October 2017
A self-proclaimed "mosque-buster" has been drafted in to help fight a planning application that would turn the Golders Green Hippodrome into an Islamic "place of worship".
Gavin Boby, a planning lawyer, addressed an audience of about 100 people for two hours at the Christian Fellowship, Bridge Lane, on Monday evening.
Mr Boby, who boasts that he has blocked 33 mosque applications, told objectors at the meeting, organised by grassroots organisation Golders Green Together (GGT), that they needed to “tell their friends and speak to their councillors” if they wanted to defeat an application by the Centre of Islamic Enlightening.
“This meeting is to discuss why a Grade II listed building is to be changed and how it will affect the amenities in our area,” Mr Boby said.
He pointed out that in the mosque’s planning application, which is to change the permissions to a “place of worship”, it doesn’t include permissions that the building is used as an entertainment venue, which current conditions state. Mr Boby claims events like concerts and theatres are “forbidden” in Muslim culture.
Hundreds of residents in Golders Green have objected to the planning application, which if successful has the capability to be twice the size of Finsbury Park mosque.
The Ham&High reported last week how Barnet Council took the decision to remove all comments from the portal, citing some as “inappropriate”. More than 5,500 people have signed a petition, submitted to the council. They say the Shia community centre has caused noise, pollution and parking problems since it opened in September.
Plenty of questions were posed by members of the audience, whilst others denied accusations that they were “Islamophobic” just because they objected to the application.
“Muslims live within us. There is nothing against mosques. The problem is the sheer scale of it. It is a mega mosque,” one person said.
At one point security had to be called in when Dr Ian Tutton, the minister of Hampstead Garden Suburb Free Church, challenged the organisers over the anonymous leaflets that they had circulated. He began to make his way towards Mr Boby, before being held back by the security guards.
Sharon Klaff from GGT said she believes the Hippodrome should be a “religious free vicinity for the whole community to use.”
Ahmed Al-Kazemi, from the centre, has previously told the Ham&High that the centre is not a mosque.
“We are a community centre. We do have prayers here but we are not a mosque.”