Weston should be too...

'WESTON is not racist' – that's the view of a Muslim leader, less than a week after a bigoted outcry against his plans for a new mosque was branded 'frightening' by a race rights group.

WESTON is not racist" - that's the view of a Muslim leader, less than a week after a bigoted outcry against his plans for a new mosque was branded 'frightening' by a race rights group.

Rafiq Islam's views might be considered surprising, given that 97 per cent of public objections to his proposals were discarded by planners because of their racist nature.

Indeed, such was the level of prejudice in these comments, they were passed on to police for investigation.

Charity SARI (Support Against Racist Incidents) described the outcry as 'frightening' - and also revealed that two thirds of the racist incidents reported in North Somerset this year occurred in Weston.


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Of course, statistics don't tell the whole story, and it's to Rafiq Islam's credit that he's taken the refusal of planning permission on the chin and turned the other cheek to the prejudice it provoked.

But ignoring this disturbing element in our town will not make it go away.

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Key to promoting equality and tolerance is education and understanding.

Once something becomes commonplace, the fear and suspicion which lie at the heart of prejudice dies away.

Mosque plans were apparently not suitable for the building in question, but that doesn't mean there can be no room for this facility in our town.

Let's hope Weston's Muslim community can quickly find a new home for its planned education centre, and be embraced by its new neighbours.

The modern world is a multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious place - Weston should be too.

FIRST it was the crematorium going private - now it's the Playhouse. And the Winter Gardens. Plus the museum. And the tourist information centre. Oh, and some sports centres.

One wonders, when North Somerset Council has finished with this great fire sale of the district's assets, exactly what we'll be left with.

Oh, of course. The Tropicana. How silly of us to worry.

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