Worshippers are in the pink over mosque bid

Tahirul Hasan and the disused shop at Hitchmans Mews

Buy this photo Tahirul Hasan and the disused shop at Hitchmans Mews

First published in News

A MOSQUE could be on its way to Chipping Norton.

Tahirul Hasan, a Conservative member of Chipping Norton Town Council, hopes to convert a former shop in Hitchmans Mews, off West Street, into a mosque.

The town’s 30-strong Muslim community currently worships in the Town Hall on Fridays, but Mr Hasan said it was not a sacred enough place for prayer.

The father-of-three said: “We need a permanent place and we need a place where there is no drinking or dancing, only peaceful prayer.

“We hope the new mosque will be a more sacred place.”

If planning permission is granted, the new mosque would open between sunrise and one hour after sunset for prayers five times a day.

Mr Hasan said he did not plan to hold religious teaching and said the mosque would only be open for about 10 minutes at a time for the prayers.

The 46-year-old added: “I have lived in Chipping Norton for 24 years and our group of Muslims had to go to Banbury for their prayer.

“So one day, seven years ago, I decided to start Friday prayer and, after looking at every venue in the town, I found a place in the Town Hall.”

The group now welcomes Muslims from Moreton-in-Marsh, Woodstock and Witney, and has up to 50 worshippers at a time.

Two years ago, Mr Hasan also started a Friday prayer group at Chipping Norton School for its eight Muslim students.

He said it was important Chipping Norton had a mosque so the next generation did not lose their identity.

He said: “Our children do not know what a mosque is because they have never seen one.”

The Rev Canon Steve Weston, team rector of the Chipping Norton Benefice, said: “I think a mosque will fit in with Chipping Norton. We have a very tolerant community.”

The district council will decide on the change of use planning application on a date yet to be set.

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