Opinion: Penshurst mosque minaret: much ado about nothing

Given the ugly buildings that local government councils allow to be built all over the place, one would think that a minaret attached to a mosque would be the least of everyone’s worries.

Not so at Penshurst, southern Sydney.

A development application submitted to Hurstville Council to upgrade an existing mosque and add a 30-metre minaret has brought the bigots out of suburbia.

No, no, they couldn’t possibly allow a minaret, they say - even if they don’t know exactly what a minaret is - because it would destroy their way of life and cause huge traffic and noise problems.

And they couldn’t possibly allow the mosque people to add an upstairs extension - even if their own houses have huge upstairs extensions — because it would bring in people from all over the place who would clog the streets five times a day instead of going to work to earn a living.

People who themselves started life in Australia as immigrants - and who keep their own traditions alive — want to stop other immigrants from observing their traditions.

And that’s because they are afraid of Islam.

Islam has become such a scary word that many ordinary people can’t think their way around it.

May I suggest that  instead of running around signing petitions and demanding referendums, the good citizens who fear Muslims should calm themselves and do some research.

Just as all Christian churches are not the same, Muslim worshippers come in a variety of traditions. As do Buddhists.

Some radical Christian sects stockpile guns and wait for Armageddon when only certain white people will be accepted by God.

Some radical Islamic groups like to wage war on anything that does not suit their view of the world.

Moderates everywhere just carry on day to day trying to be good citizens.

Without putting too fine a point on it and sounding like a bigot myself, the thing about Bosnians is that they are European.

They have their own well-developed traditions and probably have very little interest in the goings on in the Middle East.

So, if the Penshurst mosque people add a couple of extra rooms to their building, it is highly unlikely that the million and a half Muslims remaining in Bosnia would catch a leaky boat along the Mediterranean to occupy this new space.

They are more likely to be trying to join the European Union.

And it’s equally unlikely that Muslim worshippers from Middle Eastern, African or Pacific traditions would make a sudden bee-line for a renovated Bosnian mosque at Penshurst. 

They probably wouldn’t find a common language or like each other’s food.

Anyone who has seen the mosque would know it needs an upgrade. Built as a church, it is small and ugly. A minaret would do to its appearance what a nicely designed spire does to a church.

The Bosnians have been praying there for 25 years without causing any trouble to anybody. All they want is nicer premises to do it in.

What do you think about minarets?