Development plans for the construction of a mosque in Gungahlin’s Valley Avenue has attracted both support and opposition from particular community groups in Canberra.
Notices distributed by the Concerned Citizens of Canberra, which is opposing the development, insists that the mosque will cause traffic, parking and noise problems. Individual submissions to the ACT Government have commented that the mosque raises compatibility issues with Australian values.
“Everybody has a legitimate right to raise concerns about various projects,” said multicultural affairs minister Joy Burch to the Canberra Times.
“But to guise concerns about faith, religion or culture through other things such as traffic, that is not the way we do it here,” she said. “Anything that is biased against developments based on culture or faith is unacceptable.”
Gungahlin Uniting Church minister Malk Faulkner and the Gungahlin Community Council have voiced support for mosque, arguing that the noise and traffic complaints are unfounded.
“The Council still believes the site is an appropriate one for a Mosque and concerns about traffic will prove unfounded once the proposed ring road system is completed,” read a statement issued by Gungahlin Community Council public officer Kevin Cox.
Canberra Muslim Community president Borhan Ahmed told media that there were no plans to broadcast the Muslim call to prayer, through speakerphone, beyond the vicinity of the mosque.
In response to the development, Concerned Citizens of Canberra members have distributed leaflets listing the group’s criticisms, and have provided instructions for lodging submissions to the ACT Government.
“This 500 capacity mosque will dominate the viewscape and will impact on you and all other residents of Gungahlin,” stated the leaflet.
Approximately 30 submissions opposing the proposed development were received during the consultation period which closed last week, in contrast to 20 submissions that supported the mosque.
In an online survey conducted by Canberra Times, 62% of 5,356 respondents said they supported the mosque proposal. 31% opposed the proposal, and 7% were unsure or expressed no preference.