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Daily Telegraph: MoD contests a plan to build a mosque near the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst

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MoD fights plan for mosque near Sandhurst academy

The Ministry of Defence is contesting a plan to build a mosque within a few hundred yards of the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst.

By Nigel Bunyan

Senior officials claim the place of worship poses a security threat because it overlook’s the parade ground used by every new officer in the British Army.

They lodged their official objection after 7,000 residents of the stockbroker belt around Camberley, Surrey, signed a petition complaining about the proposed structure.

The mosque would have a large dome and two 100ft minarets positioned 400 yards from the parade ground.

Security officials are understood to have asked police special branch officers to brief the local council on the potential for radical Islamists to be attracted to the temple.

Although the plan has been given the go-ahead by the planning committee of Surrey Heath Council, no final decision will be made until the full council meets next month.

Both Prince Charles and Prince Harry were commissioned at Sandhurst and senior members of the Royal family are regular visitors.

Local Muslims have been worshipping at a former Victorian school for the past 14 years, but now want to build their own mosque on the same site.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said: “Sandhurst has objected to the plans as such a tall building would give oversight into Defence property which could prove a security risk.

“It is not because the building is a mosque that the plans are objectionable, it is because it is such a tall building.”

Alan Kirkland, the leader of a campaign by local residents to oppose the building of a mosque, said: “A lot of people are questioning the size of the minarets which will overlook the whole academy.”

The local Conservative MP, Michael Gove, has suggested the application should be withdrawn for the sake of “good community relations”.

Nigel Farage, of the UK Independence party, said: “I am appalled at such an idea. Many fear it could pose a grave security risk.”

Abdul Wasay Chowdhury, of the Bengali Welfare Association, said: “We have designed the new mosque very carefully to enhance the local area.”

A spokesman for Surrey Heath Council said: “The submitted plans state there will be no access to the minarets above the roof level of the building.”

Source: Daily Telegraph

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