Islamic centre plans to re-open in town centre

PUBLISHED: 16:00 28 July 2011 | UPDATED: 19:52 29 July 2011

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AN ISLAMIC education centre is set to re-open in Weston town centre with up to 400 people praying five times a day at the site.

The Mercury can reveal the Weston Islamic Education Centre is considering opening in the closed-down Avon Tandoori, in Waterloo Street, which it purchased last week.

The acquisition could prove a permanent home for the centre and a return to the building it used as a base for eight years until it was forced out last June on lease expiry.

Centre leaders are to meet tomorrow (Fri) to discuss how they could use the site, which could provide hundreds of people each day with a place for social gathering, prayer and teaching.

They maintain, however, that it would not be a mosque.

Centre member Rafiq Islam said: “After a year without a home, members are keen to find a permanent base for education and prayer and we believe this could be the answer.

“Discussions are at a very early stage, but the building has been purchased and we are meeting to sort out what we want to do next.”

Fellow member, Mohammed Zillul said the opening of a centre within the building would be funded by donations.

He said: “There is a lot of support for this and we hope people will support us as we do need somewhere like this.

“We used to meet in the Friends Meeting House on Fridays, but we don’t any more. We have been speaking to council planning officers and they say that parking should not be an issue.”

The religious organisation hit the headlines last year when its plan for a mosque in Orchard Street resulted in 150 ‘racist’ letters of objection.

North Somerset Council contacted police after discarding 97 per cent of responses to the centre’s planning application.

Later, three people from Weston, aged 20, 22 and 23 were cautioned by police.

The plan, however, was thrown out by planners who feared disturbance from the 24-hour site.

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