The Gordon’s Bay Islamic Society says justice and religious tolerance have prevailed following the rezoning of land for a mosque to be built in the harbour town after more than 100 objections were raised by community members.
The decision has been met with controversy, with the Gordon’s Bay Residents Association vowing to appeal the rezoning.
The application for the rezoning, from a single residential to general business and community zone to permit a place of worship, was granted earlier this week. The mosque will be built at the corner of Roos and Lancaster roads.
The relaxation of the building line from 5m to 3.5m was granted and a restriction that no amplified sound equipment be used for the call to prayer was imposed. The 135 objections that were submitted included concern about traffic.
A traffic survey was later completed and submitted to the City’s traffic department, with no objections received from Transport. Objectors also raised concerns about parking. Provision must be made for 40 cars plus two parking bays for the disabled.
The design had also been changed in consultation with the City’s Urban Design branch, which supported the application.
Gordon’s Bay Islamic Society chairperson Cassim Peer said yesterday: “We are pleased that justice has prevailed and (endorsed) the constitutional right for everyone to have a place of worship.
The individual panel members saw that. “People will have their own attitudes about this, but I believe the majority of people don’t have a problem with the mosque. “There are a few people who practise religious intolerance – we want to reach out to them, they are not our enemies, they are part and parcel of our community. We intend no harm, we also want to live in peace and harmony. “In South Africa there is no place for religious intolerance. We want to reach out, but again, this is the minority. The majority of people are fair.”
The Gordon’s Bay Residents Association said in a statement that a discussion had been held about the greening of the piece of ground, which is municipal ground, to include more parking, but it must be improved into a park-like situation. “This will further improve this area and when the other piece of ground behind the Bay shopping centre is developed, this area will take on a whole new look for Gordon’s Bay,” the association said. “Residents present at the meeting are in agreement that we would appeal the decision on a number of issues, get clarity on the call to prayer at 6am and the design and height of the minarets. “Meetings will be held with the relevant parties.”
The decision has incited heated online debate, with a number of residents expressing support for the appeal.
One such user commented: “I agree we as residents should appeal. The noise levels traffic and parking impact, there is never sufficient parking available at mosques, churches etc. “I am surprised that only 40 parking bays are deemed sufficient and that no objections were raised from Traffic’s side regarding increase in traffic patterns. “That intersection is already congested at times.” Another user said: “I like the park idea but not the mosque.”
Yet another user said: “It’s a load of bull. “There is no need for a mosque in Gordon’s Bay. “Nobody has listened to our objections. “I say we as residents must block any building works if they go ahead.” A commentator said: “I usually do not get involved with these type of posts, but I am in total disbelief at the various comments to say the least. “Wow, I cannot believe we moved into a town with residents where in this day and age we are unable to coexist and respect one another’s faiths and religious practices. What is the world coming to? “Can we not just learn to have unconditional acceptance