UK Police departments in Leicaster are feeling the pinch from having to provide a constant police presence at anti-Muslim protests. We should be doing a lot more of this in the U.S.
This is Leicastershire It’s an unlikely setting for an ongoing night-after-night street protest. However, hundreds of people have been gathering in Thurncourt Road, on Leicester’s Thurnby Lodge estate, for some weeks now to protest against an Islamic charity’s plan to turn a disused Scout hut into a community centre and prayer room.
On Friday, the number of people taking part swelled towards the 400 mark – with about 50 police officers there to oversee it. The Leicester Mercury has spoken to people on both sides of the debate and to the city council, which is working to resolve the dispute.
The Scout Association paid for the hut to be built in 1974 and it was a busy base for the movement for almost 30 years. It became the centre of the current dispute earlier this year when it became apparent that a Muslim questionable charity, the As-Salaam Trust, had stepped forward and wanted to turn it into a community centre.
The trust indicated last week that it would open the centre to the wider community and indicated it would consider reviving the Scout group if there was sufficient local support. (Total crap. They say whatever they think you want to hear to get what they want. Then they open the center and suddenly there is no room for anything non-Islamic)
Its members have been meeting at the neighbouring community centre in Thurncourt Road for the past two and a half years. Those meetings have been the focus of the recent protests – which have coincided with the holy month of Ramadan. Residents involved in the protests – some of which have lasted long into the night – insist their argument is with the city council, not the trust.
They believe local people’s suggestions for other uses of the building – including a combination of boxing club, gym and dance studio – have not been taken seriously.
The council said it contacted 100 community groups who previously said they needed a new base, to tell them the building could be available. As-Salaam came forward at that point.
Maxine Williams, licensee of the neighboring Stirrup Cup pub, has been at the centre of the group which is organising the protests. She said: “It all started when someone at the community centre got an e-mail about the Scout hut.
“When it became clear what was happening, we did the correct thing and put a petition forward because we wanted a say over what was happening in our community. There was no consultation and no notices put up in the street, so people felt they weren’t being told what was going on.”
The future of the Scout hut was to be discussed at the area’s regular ward meeting last month. So many people turned up that the meeting was abandoned because it would have breached the building’s capacity. Residents have said they will continue to stage their street protests, although last Friday’s, which drew up to 400 people, was the “big one”.
As-Salaam has been praying at the community centre for two and a half years so people feel that they already have somewhere to meet. ”A lot of Muslims are coming from far and wide to pray here. They are also concerned about extra traffic, congestion, noise, and pollution the building might create if it became a Muslim community centre.
“I can understand that some people from As-Salaam might be scared by the protests and that’s why I have stood on the other side of the road when I’ve been down there because I don’t want to intimidate anyone.”(Idiot. Get up in their hairy faces)
Another issue which has arisen is that unfounded rumors have begun circulating through the internet. These include a claim that the neighboring Anglican Christ Church had been asked to cover its cross for fear of offending Muslims.
Assistant city mayor Sarah Russell said: “It is right the police are there to facilitate protests but there is a cost. ”We are continuing discussions to try to find a suitable alternative for As-Salaam.
Last month, As-Salaam’s imam, Mohammed Lockhat, said: “We are negotiating with the council. We would not want to have to travel far to pray.” (How about Mecca?)