CQ's Islamic Centre plans revealed on horror day

IN THE days after we told of the local Islamic society's plans for an established community centre here in Gladstone (Observer, October 3), there has been a solid show of support and protest.

Last week we revealed the society hoped to provide a central meeting point for more than 150 Muslim people in the region, through a learning centre.

Their idea is that the centre would act as a conduit for breaking down cultural barriers between Muslims and the wider community here in Gladstone.

They were optimistic of support from the community.

And support they got; but it came with its fair share of opposition.

Gladstone Regional Council didn't comment in time for that story; however earlier this week Mayor Gail Sellers confirmed the society of Gladstone had approached her council's development department with "preliminary enquiries".

She said the society would need to have the application listed as 'Impact Assessable' before any further action was taken. She also told us responsibility to notify the public about the proposed centre would rest with the Islamic society.

This means the society would need to firstly notify the public of its intentions to build the centre, before putting the plans to a vote before the Council.

Members of the society were hesistant to talk in too much detail last week because their ideas are still in the early stages; and understandably wanting to distance themselves from the anti-Islam rallies that were planned across the country for today as well as the news of the 15-year-old, Farhad Jabar, who shot and killed New South Wales police civilian employee Curtis Cheng outside Parramatta Police Station in Sydney on Friday.

This week several phone calls have been made to our office enquiring about whether or not the local centre would be funded by the government.

That will remain unknown until the application has been put forward but a flyer from the Islamic Society of Gladstone called "Gladstone Masjid Appeal" said the local community has already raised $130,000.

The required amount for the Masjid was $470,000.

A couple of Facebook pages have emerged; encouraging residents to help stop the development of a mosque in Gladstone (although our initial story stated the society had plans for a 'learning centre', not a mosque) and has gathered more than 3000 likes in less than a week.

It states the aim of that page is "to oppose the Mosque development in Gladstone QLD and form a fighting committee to halt the development".

One of the posts states that the Islamic Society of Gladstone had not submitted a development application and urged people to attend council meetings and read this paper for public notices.

Over on The Morning Bulletin's Facebook page, Binil Kattiparambil has written wrote about how a Mosque can successfully unite a community.

"As one of the organisers of the Rockhampton Mosque Open Days, I can tell you that the open days are organised with an intention to improve cohesion within the community by encouraging open communication between Muslims and non-Muslims," Mr Kattiparambil said.

"The last two (open days) attended by local leaders, representatives from the Christian and other faiths, cultural organisations etc. It always includes community centred activities and at the end of the day people realise that Muslims are no different to non-Muslims."

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