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Security guards called as tempers flare at Golders Green Islamic centre meeting

The Grade II-listed Hippodrome building was bought earlier this year for £5.25 million by the Centre for Islamic Enlightening.

    Gavin Boby addresses Monday's public meeting (Photo: Ben Weich)
    Gavin Boby addresses Monday's public meeting (Photo: Ben Weich)
    More than 100 Golders Green residents discussed ways to force the closure of the suburb’s new Islamic centre in a heated public meeting organised by a controversial grassroots group.
     
    Attendees were addressed by Gavin Boby, a planning lawyer and director of the Law and Freedom Foundation, who has been approached by the residents to act as an adviser.
     
    Mr Boby is known as "the mosque-buster", having waged 47 campaigns against the establishment of mosques across the UK.
     
    The Grade II-listed Hippodrome building was bought earlier this year for £5.25 million by the Centre for Islamic Enlightening. It was previously used as the El-Shaddai International Christian Centre.
     
    It will now house the Hussainiyat Al-Rasool Al-Adham Islamic centre serving the Shia community, mostly of Iraqi heritage.
     
    At Monday evening's meeting, Mr Boby repeatedly used incendiary language in reference to Muslims and terrorism. This was met with laughter and applause by the majority of the audience. 
     
    He also made a number of allusions to terrorism, despite there being no evidence of any links between the Centre for Islamic Enlightening and terror or hate speech.
     
    Mr Boby said the objections to the centre should focus on the change of the building’s use from an entertainment venue to a place of worship.
     
    He said: “The previous owners of the building were granted planning permission to turn it into a church with a lot of public performances, too.
     
    “It was used for concerts, drama and dance festivals. But those are forbidden within Islam. Sometimes you might see women dancing and men stomping about with Kalashnikovs but you certainly can’t take your daughter to see a girl band. The punishment would be to have molten lead in your ear.
     
    “As soon as you get a mosque, you get the parking jihad. On a Friday lunchtime or in the evening during Koran time you won’t be able to park your car."

    Mr Boby also referred to mosques’ historical uses as "fortresses" and "places of executions", adding that "terrorists form plots in mosques" where they cannot be detected.

     
    The Hippodrome building was previously used as a Christian centre
    The Hippodrome building was previously used as a Christian centre
     
    Mr Boby challenged the Centre for Islamic Enlightening to disclose the means by which they purchased the Hippodrome and their sources of funding.
     
    The atmosphere turned sour when Dr Ian Tutton, the minister of Hampstead Garden Suburb Free Church posed the same challenge to the meeting’s organisers, pointing out that they had circulated literature without disclosing their identity.
     
    Spurred on by Mr Boby, attendees loudly objected to Dr Tutton’s request, with many getting to their feet and security guards moving towards him.
     
    The organisers were previously known as Golders Green Together, but have been forced to drop the name after a 2015 campaign of the same name, which was opposed to a far right march through the area, objected to its usage.
     
    During a question and answer session, residents voiced concerns about the construction of minarets and the prospect of worshippers praying in the street.
     
    Josephine Bacon made the unfounded claim that the group had been funded with Kuwaiti money.
     
    Another man alleged he had seen Hezbollah flags displayed in windows of worshipper’s cars – which was refuted by one of the event organisers.
     
    One resident said: “When Muslims come into this area Jewish people will have to move away – and they won’t come back. That will be a great loss to London.”
     
    After the meeting one resident told the JC she and others had "legitimate planning concerns", but felt frustrated that they were being lost in "negative language".
     
    She said: “We don’t care that they’re Muslims. They could be Martians in there for all we care. But residents have been blocked in their driveways by parked cars, and cars have been parked on pavements.”
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