Council tells Toowoomba Muslims when to worship
MUSLIMS in Toowoomba will be restricted from worshipping in their mosque during the early morning after a last-minute change to an application endorsed by Toowoomba Regional Council.
Under the conditions set out by council's committee meeting, Muslims will not be able to pray at the Garden City Mosque before 6am.
They previously had permission to pray at the mosque at 4am.
The conditions were imposed in an 11th hour alternate motion put forward by Cr Anne Glasheen yesterday.
The development approval process was triggered when the Islamic Society of Toowoomba sought an expansion to the mosque after two arson attacks left it unusable last year.
Cr Glasheen said the change in the time was an acknowledgement that most places of worship in the area did not start before 6am.
"I think 6 o'clock is a fair time when you're in a residential area to have people coming and going.
"We all acknowledge that there will be noise from cars and car doors and the low hum. I think 4 o'clock in the morning is a bit hard in a residential area."
Cr Bill Cahill voted against the motion, saying the mosque should be built somewhere else. Cr Megan O'Hara Sullivan also opposed the motion but for a different reason, arguing there should be no restrictions on early morning prayer sessions.
Muslims in Toowoomba often pray half an hour before sunrise.
Cr Chris Tait said after the meeting that members of Toowomba's Muslim community could worship wherever they wanted to.
"When you go to hotels around the world you often see an arrow on the ceiling ... which points to Mecca and they can worship there.
"We've got to look at the whole community and we're looking at amenity in that area.
"There are residences close to there and we did take into account the residences.
"We felt that it's appropriate that we put a 6am start so people who live nearby aren't affected."
Asked whether there were similar restrictions put on churches, Cr Tait said there could be if they needed to make an application.
"I don't think we would treat another denomination differently.
"If amenity was going to be interfered with then we would put conditions on that."
Abdul Kader is the Imam at the mosque and said the Islamic community would have been satisfied regardless of council's decision.
He said the Toowoomba community generally wanted to see the mosque "up and running" after the arson attacks.
He said the conditions wouldn't impact the Islamic community in winter as the sun rose later in the day, but said it could affect Muslims during the summer months.
Imam Kader said work would begin immediately on the rebuild and expansion.