How the Garden City Mosque will look upon completion of the expansion. Photo Contributed
How the Garden City Mosque will look upon completion of the expansion. Photo Contributed Contributed

Councillor warns of racism in mosque debate

A TOOWOOMBA councillor says she is concerned that racism is overshadowing the debate on approving an expansion to the city's only mosque.

Muslims in Toowoomba are seeking permission from the Toowoomba Regional Council to expand their mosque after it was torched twice last year and left unusable.

Cr Megan O'Hara Sullivan said there had been a "lot of talk" about Toowoomba being a multicultural and welcoming community that embraced other cultures and lifestyles.

But she said xenophobia could be the reason why some people opposed the expansion.

Cr O'Hara Sullivan said people needed to examine their consciences about why they didn't want a mosque in Toowoomba.

>> Mosque expansion explained: what's planned and why

"To say that we live in a multicultural society, well this is the living, breathing embodiment of a multicultural society.

"Multiculturalism extends further than going to a festival and eating dumplings one day a year. It's embracing and being tolerant of other people's languages, cultures and lifestyles, religions.

"There is a section of the community that is concerned and we have to listen to those concerns and find out why they're afraid, why they want segregation."

Cr O'Hara Sullivan said Islamic-terrorist attacks overseas had caused concern but she said it wasn't right to "fight fear with fear".

Early plans for the new mosque.
Early plans for the new mosque. Contributed

"You embrace them, this is exactly the same as when migrants came in the 40s and 50s - Italians and Greeks - now we pride ourselves on what a melting pot we are.

"This is where we start, by allowing people to practice their own religions and be tolerant."

Cr O'Hara Sullivan said if the mosque expansion was not approved, things would continue as before.

"There will be the same start times, noise levels and cars will be there.

"If we do approve it will mean the car park will be tidied up, there will be noise mitigations and dedicated turning lanes.

"It will only be a better outcome - it has always been a place of worship."

The council will vote on the expansion tomorrow.



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