Plans to establish a mosque in a London suburb with a large Jewish population have been met with mounting opposition.
The Grade ll-listed Golders Green Hippodrome was bought earlier this year for £5.25million by the Centre for Islamic Enlightening.
Spokesperson Ahmed Al-Kazemi confirmed this week that the building would house the Hussainiyat Al-Rasool Al-Adham mosque and Islamic centre serving the Shia community in north-west London
But a petition against the plan posted on Barnet Council’s website has attracted almost 4,000 signatures, with a further 186 objections lodged on the site, and only 93 comments in support.
Opponents have cited concerns about congestion and noise, but some have referred to possible tensions between Muslim worshippers and local Jews.
Mr Al-Kazemi described the purchase of the Hippodrome, well-known as a former concert venue, as a “great move”.
“We are very pleased and excited to be in Golders Green in such a diverse area.
“We can’t wait to get to know our neighbours and plan to welcome them at an open day sometime in December.”
The building was built by the acclaimed theatre architect Bertie Crewe in 1913 and was originally a 3,000-seat music venue.
It became a BBC television studio and concert hall in 1969 and hosted live concerts and recordings. The first two episodes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus series were also recorded at the venue in 1969. In later years it was the home of the El-Shaddai Christian Centre.
The application, submitted last month by a Mr Razi Zadeh, notes that around the first 10 days of the “Arabic calendar”, activities at the mosque may run until after midnight.
Many of the opponents refer to the extended operating hours but also warn of increased traffic and higher levels of air and noise pollution. A minority focus on the risk of cross-communal friction.
Ms Ayelet Avroya wrote: “This neighbourhood is affiliated with the jewish (sic) population that has been living here for years, side by side with the English Christians and others.
“This is going to force the jewish population to run away and make this beautiful neighbourhood to crowded, with loads of burka’s (sic) and vails (sic) over the weekend which I find scary and changes the fine balance between the residence (sic) of this area?”
Ms Josephine Bacon wrote: “To place a large Muslim institution in the heart of one of London’s only two Jewish communities is a highly dangerous undertaking and one that can only result in violence and terrorism.
“The Hippodrome, which I have known since childhood, is in a very prominent position and will attract large numbers of worshippers, including many undesirables, to the neighbourhood.”
The petition opened on October 4 and runs until October 15. It is not clear who has set it up but concerns have been raised about the authenticity of some of the names.
Golders Green resident Judy Silkoff told the JC that her name, as well as those of her husband and several friends, had been added without their knowledge.
She said: “I presume no one used my email address to do it because I would have got an email. But perhaps someone is creating fake email addresses.”
Barnet Council has been contacted for comment.