Apr 1 2012
HERALD SUN About 2000 people have objected to plans by Iraqi community group the Great Prophet Centre to build a 125-student school on a heritage site in Mernda. Whittlesea Council recently rejected the proposal in a split vote, despite its own planning officers recommending it go ahead and receiving a 2000-signature petition backing the school.
Cr John Fry, who supported the plan, said today he had detected an anti-Muslim undercurrent in some of the opposition to the school. ”They were afraid there was going to be a mosque there or noise from call to prayers or whatever,” he said.
”There didn’t seem to be an understanding of what the actual proposal was. ”There is an unfortunate thing that people who don’t understand different cultures can react negatively.” (Oh here we go, those misunderstanders of Islam are at it again)
Islamic Council of Victoria spokesman Nazeem Hussain said it was puzzling that the council had rejected the advice of its own staff on the feasibility of the project. ”It would be upsetting and unfortunate if the basis for these objections was due to anti-Muslim undercurrents,” he said. (Actually, that would be a good thing as more people come out to fight the threat that muslims pose to every community)
”Given that many of these objections came from outside of the Mernda area, it would suggest that there has been a concerted effort to not see this project come to fruition, as opposed to there being bona fide traffic or planning concerns.” (Gather the troops!)
Mr Hussain said Victoria was a vibrant multicultural society and the Islamic Council would expect those responsible for decision-making not to ”succumb to ideas that divide us.” (Umm, it’s succumbing to Muslim pressure groups that the people want to avoid)
The council planning officers’ report said there were only 75 objections from the Mernda area and more than 90 per cent of the total objections received were co-ordinated through a group called Friends of Mernda Heritage Site.
In its form letter to council, the group said that the heritage precinct would be severely compromised by the proposed development and traffic and parking issues could not be resolved.
Great Prophet Centre spokesman Hassan Al Khirsany accused objectors and Whittlesea Council of discrimination. “We believe that strong objections against the school were because of our background,” he said. (And this is a bad thing because why?)
Mr Al Khirsany rejected objections regarding traffic and heritage issues, saying he had no doubt that plans for a Catholic school would have been well supported. (Exactly!)
But Cr Pam McLeod, who voted against the Muslim school proposal, said it was all about traffic and heritage matters. “It is unfortunate but inevitable that some people would be disappointed with the outcome of council’s decision,” he said.