Cheers, jeers as land is handed over for mosque
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Pretoria - Cheering and applause filled the hall of the Vallies Park Primary School hall on Tuesday evening as the Muslim community from Valhalla were given land to build a mosque in the area.
As this was happening inside the hall, a handful of protesters demonstrated outside with placards denouncing the building of the mosque.
In a signing and handover ceremony, Tshwane mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa said some people had argued that the land could be better used to raise funds of up to R250 million to assist needy communities instead.
“I say to those people that there can be no rand value that could stand before the presence of the Lord. We want everyone to know that all faiths seeking space to propagate their religious beliefs are welcome in the capital city,” he said.
“This process is not unique to this area alone. Since 2013, we have already donated over 140 places of worship and we will continue to do so,” said Ramokgopa.
He added that the city was determined to break down the enclaves of exclusivity fostered by the former government and create a democratic and diverse demographic of people seeking peaceful co-existence with one another.
Meanwhile, residents against the donation of the land for the erection of a mosque demonstrated outside the school, saying they were not consulted during the entire process.
They stood silently outside holding placards, one of which read: “No to mosque. Asian neighbours yes. Mosque no.”
Freedom Front Plus party member Anel Geyser said the members were not protesting against Muslims coming to live in their community, but only against the noise a mosque would create.
“The land was donated for free when there were people who wanted to buy the land to use it to build an old-age home and for a special school. We pray in silence and we would like to be afforded the same consideration.
35We already hear them all the way from Laudium,” she said.
Geyser said they were supportive of people practising their own religious beliefs but not when this infringed on others’ beliefs.
Resident Amanda Schoeman said they did not want a mosque in their community as it was a quiet and peaceful neighbourhood.
“What will happen to our animals if they will be blaring out prayers and ringing bells five times a day?”
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