A MAN hoping to create a mosque in Chipping Norton has enlisted the help of a rather powerful friend – the Prime Minister.
As previously reported in the Journal, town councillor Tahirul Hasan was set to convert a former chiropodist in Hitchman’s Mews, off West Street, into a Muslim place of worship after securing planning permission in February.
But after the plans were approved, the shop’s landlord George Wissinter received a sinister phone call threatening to burn it down, and Mr Hasan’s plans were left in tatters.
The father-of-three, who started Friday prayers in the town hall seven years ago, had almost given up hope of finding a venue but after speaking to Prime Minister David Cameron in his Witney constituency surgery, he has new hope his dreams can become reality.
“I was greatly disturbed to learn of threats being made following the district council’s decision to grant permission for a prayer room for the local Muslim community,” said Mr Cameron.
“I have since met with Coun Hasan and I will continue to do what I can as the local Member of Parliament to assist him with his proposal.
“Chipping Norton has an excellent record of supporting the rights of minority groups and their interests and I sincerely hope this will continue.”
Mr Hasan, who has known Mr Cameron for the last eight years, said: “I’m very grateful to him. He was very supportive of what we are trying to do. He was disturbed with the news about the phone call. He was horrified to hear about it.”
Despite the threat, Mr Hasan said the majority in Chippy had been supportive.
“The nice thing is, at the taxi rank a lot of people come up to me saying sorry, “ he said. “Chipping Norton is not a racist town.
“It’s a wonderful place.
I’ve lived here the last 24 years and I don’t find any problems.”
Ron Spurs, of West Oxfordshire District Council, said: “We’re in regular contact with Mr Hasan and we’re still working with him and other organisations to try and assist in resolving the issue.”
After Ramadan finishes on August 9, Mr Hasan is inviting residents to attend Friday prayers between 1.30pm and 2.30pm to find out more about what goes on.