Mosque renovation sparks controversy due to objection from church member in Oz

A row has sparked in Melbourne over the planned renovation of a mosque in the vicinity of Monash University, in the eastern suburbs of the city, after a prominent member of the local Uniting Church gave a statement that religious extremists and fanatics may be trained in mosques. The controversy began when Mohamed Mohideen, president of the Islamic Association of Monash Mosque, said the university-owned house, where the mosque is based, is too small to host the rapidly growing congregation of worshippers, reports the Age. Soon after that, the chairman of the Monash Uniting Church congregation, Richard Farrell, wrote to the Monash City Council on official church stationary, opposing the planned renovations of the mosque. He said that the mosque renovations would disturb nearby residents, with the extra problem of congested streets during Friday prayers. Mohideen, a Monash University professor and deputy chairman of the Monash Interfaith Gathering, said that the remarks were hurtful for the Muslim community, who only needed a comfortable atmosphere during prayers, and hence the need for renovations. According to city of Monash councilor, Geoff Lake, the remarks made by Farrell, were unpatriotic and misinformed, and demanded Farrell''s resignation. He added that if the entire community held the same view as Farrell, then the church needed to address its congregation on a more proper course. The general secretary of the Uniting Church''s Victoria-Tasmania Synod, the Reverend Dr Mark Lawrence, said that Farrell''s statements were his own and did not represent the entire church. However, the Reverend Hoon You, the Uniting Church minister of the Monash Congregation, said the church committee had discussed the mosque renovation last year and decided any objections would be sent to the council in an individual capacity. He added that training of extremists in mosques were still prevalent in Europe, which may have given rise to the remarks.

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