London, Dec 14(ANI): A huge rocket-shaped minaret and two giant arches in the style of Muslim headscarves outside London's Brick Lane Jamme Masjid has sparked off a controversy, as community leaders believe it risks swelling racial tension in the borough.
According to reports, council chiefs in the East London borough of Tower Hamlets are using 2.5 million pounds of public money to push through the construction in the area, which has been a symbolic melting pot of immigrant communities for over 400 years.
The minaret has just been put up outside Brick Lane Jamme Masjid, a building whose appearance until now has remained unchanged during previous spells as a Huguenot church, a Methodist chapel and as a Jewish synagogue.
Many residents of the area believe it is disrespectful to Brick Lane's history.
"It shows absolute contempt for other religions. The trail was meant to be a wonderful thing that reflects the ethnic groups who have come to the area. People who come on my tours to respect what used to be a synagogue will be outraged," The Daily Express quoted Clive Bettington, who runs the Jewish East End Celebration Society in Brick Lane, as saying.
"The arches are clearly meant to be Muslim in character and we are now objecting in the strongest possible terms," he added.
Meanwhile, a senior opposition councillor in the area said that several members of the community were "utterly appalled" by the decision, and said: "Things like this damage community cohesion."
However, a Tower Hamlets Council spokeswoman said that the minaret was part of the cultural trail.
"The minaret is very much a cultural symbol providing a strong cultural clue to the area and endorsing our belief that the local Muslim community is now an integral part, not just of Tower Hamlets, but London and further afield," the spokeswoman said.
"The cultural trail has gone through all of the Council's relevant planning and financial due diligence," she added. (ANI)