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Fire threat puts an end to mosque plan
7:58am Thursday 14th February 2013 in News
A THREAT to burn down a building if it was converted into a mosque in Chipping Norton appears to have left the plans in tatters.
West Oxfordshire District Council (WODC) approved plans to convert a former chiropodist in Hitchman’s Mews, off West Street, into a Muslim place of worship last week but the story has since taken a sinister turn after the shop’s landlord George Wissinter received a threatening phone call.
He now says that he will not go ahead with the conversion plans.
The 79-year-old said: “I had one direct threat. A man called on Sunday night. They said if I go ahead with it, it would get very hot. They were saying they would burn it down. I’ve told him [Mr Hasan] I want my keys back and I don’t want to go ahead with it.”
Mr Wissinter said that although he had only received one direct threat, he had heard through word-ofmouth the mosque was not wanted and had even received flyers against the plans.
“The whole town is really against it,” he said.
“People I know have said to me what was said in pubs so that’s good enough for me. I would rather keep that little shop empty.”
Before the planning meeting, WODC received 28 letters objecting to the plans and two in support and some comments were not included in the agenda papers due to their “prejudicial nature”.
Applicant Tahirul Hasan intended to rent the ground floor for prayers five times a day, seven days a week.
He said: “After all the hard work and money I’ve spent, now this happens. It’s very upsetting news for us.
“Everyone is shocked. It’s stopped me for a while but not forever. We’re looking for somewhere else in Chipping Norton.”
Thames Valley Police is investigating the phone call.
A ballot held at cotswold journal.co.uk suggested that people’s views on the plans for a mosque in Chipping Norton are split, with 53 per cent of people against the proposals and 47 per cent in favour