'Too soft': Gladstone residents divided over new Islamic Centre
THE Islamic Society of Gladstone is banking on its "good working and social relationship" with the community to stave off any hate that comes its way after submitting an application to build an Islamic Centre in Toolooa.
The president of the Islamic Society, Mohammad Uddin, said the group had built up strong ties based on "trust and mutual understanding" within Gladstone during the past 10 years.
Mr Uddin said the Islamic Society was a member of multi-faith groups in town and an "integral part of the social fabric" in Gladstone.
"We are an open society and will continue to be so," Mr Uddin said.
"We are happy to work with and address any concerns that a member of the wider community may have regarding this proposed project.
"(If successful) the Islamic Centre will be open to the public during the centre's operating hours (and) people from the wider community are welcome to visit the centre, should they wish to do so."
Mr Uddin said he was happy and believed the Islamic Society had put forward a "very comprehensive" application for the construction of the Islamic Centre.
"We are satisfied that we have complied with the required planning and engineering requirements," he said.
Mr Uddin also said that since the Islamic Society was a local organisation, it intended to use "Gladstone resources and workforce" in constructing the proposed project.
However, the founder of the Facebook Group Stop the Mosque Gladstone, Townsville-based politician Kim Vuga, has vowed to fight hard to stop the proposed development.
Although Ms Vuga does not live in Gladstone, she has helped organise a local committee to speak against the proposed Islamic Centre.
"We will be doing whatever we can to make sure people are aware that they need to put their objections in," Ms Vuga said.
"We're stuck because...we can only fight on the planning scheme alone."
Ms Vuga claims that her views about potential negative "social" impacts arising from the development of the Islamic Centre should be taken into consideration.
She said a decision on whether the Islamic Centre was approved, or not, should not be left up to the council to decide.
"There needs to be a public vote within the community (and) ... if the people of Gladstone want that, then that's fine, that's democracy," Ms Vuga said.
Ms Vuga, who heads the Love Australia Or Leave Party, said that she supported a ban on any new mosques and felt there was a need to "watch the ones that are already built".
"In terms of freedom of religion we are too soft ... the pendulum has swung too far the other way," she said.
"This is our backyard...(and) once they get (the Islamic Centre) through the council, you will see further developments."