New mosque plan for Penshurst

A MORE modest set of plans for the Bosnian mosque at Penshurst will go before Hurstville Council in May.

Australian Bosnian Islamic Council spokesman Enes Topalovic urged the community to show reason and understanding so the church's Bosnian European heritage could be alllowed to integrate into "this great country, which has been built on multiculturalism".

"We have put our application forward as we would like to be recognised for our contribution to the community and to maintain our Bosnian Muslim heritage," Mr Topalovic said.

"We would like to extend our hands to the wider community to work together and make our community better for everyone."

The Bosnians ran into problems last year when they submitted a development application for first-floor additions to the mosque and a 30-metre high minaret, causing objectors to go into overdrive.

Hurstville Council received petitions containing the signatures of more than 2000 opponents, with objections ranging from non-compliance with Hurstville's LEP and DCP, traffic flow, car parking, noise, privacy, fear of Muslims and that the minaret would affect privacy and property values.

In response, the council extended the plan's exhibition period and the notification area, issuing more than 3000 letters to surrounding homes.

The matter was to be considered at a February 19 council meeting, which was to be held at Hurstville Town Hall to accommodate the expected large crowd.

But the Australian Bosnian Islamic Council withdrew the application.

Mr Topalovic said: ‘‘Taking into consideration [community] concerns raised regarding parking and also height concerns with respect to the minaret, we decided to amend our DA application.

‘‘We took out the mezzanine from our original DA application, putting the community ahead of our requirements. 

‘‘Also we downsized the minaret structure from 30 metres to 21 metres.’’

‘‘Penshurst Mosque was built by the Australian-Bosnian community in 1989. ‘‘In the last 25 years, we have been respectful of our neighbours and of the community. 

‘‘We have a long history of co-existence and tolerance with others and have been law-abiding citizens.’’

Mr Topalovic said that to contribute to inter-religious and inter-cultural understanding in the greater Sydney community, they had introduced an annual open mosque day, inviting all Australians to ‘‘experience the cultural atmosphere of Penshurst mosque and to meet the members of our congregation’’.

‘‘We believe this day helps the community better understand the Bosnian Muslim culture,’’ he said.

‘‘We want to contribute to building a society where people have no prejudice about religion.’’

 The Bosnians are happy to answer questions: