More than 4,200 people have signed an online petition protesting against plans to turn the Golders Green Hippodrome into a mosque.
The petitioners – who are asked to say whether they either live, work or study in the area but are not asked to provide proof – claim the new Islamic religious centre will cause “disruption,” citing traffic and pollution problems.
The complainants, writing under the banner of ‘Golders Green Together,’ say they wish to “restore the charm, harmony and safety of our family neighbourhood”.
They have called on Barnet Council to “approach the management of the Centre and oblige them to make the necessary arrangements and changes in order to stop the deleterious impact on the lives of the local residents and their visitors”.
The Grade ll-listed building on North End Road was bought earlier this year for more than £5 million by the Centre for Islamic Enlightening. It will house the Hussainiyat Al-Rasool Al-Adham Mosque and Islamic Centre, and serve the Shia community.
However the petitioners say the extra traffic would make it an “utterly unbearable” situation leading to an “increased risk to the lives and health of local residents”.
On Wednesday, the Board of Deputies’ chief executive Gillian Merron wrote to the petition’s organisers about the use of the name ‘Golders Green Together.’
She said: “As you may or may not be aware, ‘Golders Green Together’ already exists – it was formed by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and others in 2015 to campaign against a neo-Nazi demonstration in Golders Green.
“It is associated with this successful anti-racist campaign and we are not willing to allow it to be used by others without permission. Please cease to use the name with immediate effect.”
Jewish News readers have previously expressed disquiet about the idea of a Shia religious centre in an area with a large Jewish population, with one Golders Green resident, who preferred to remain anonymous, saying: “We residents object as we want a cultural centre for all, not just them.”
However spokesman Ahmed Al-Kazemi extended a hand of friendship after the sale of the former concert venue, saying: “We are very pleased and excited to be in Golders Green in such a diverse area. We can’t wait to get to know our neighbours and plan to welcome them at an open day sometime in December.”