Joint statement with Cllrs Simon Hall, Carole Bonner, Louisa Woodley & Oliver Lewis and London Assembly member Steve O'Connell re BNP activity in New Addington
Together with the four Labour councillors representing the Fieldway and New Addington wards and Steve O'Connell, the Conservative London Assembly member for the area, I have issued the following statement about the BNP's efforts to divide the people of New Addington:
"We are aware that a meeting has been called at the ACA on 17 August regarding the issue of a mosque in New Addington.
"We wished to respond, on a cross-party basis, as the elected representatives for New Addington at a local, London and national level.
"It is clear that the whole ‘New Addington Mosque’ campaign, including street stalls and this meeting, is being run by the British National Party as an opportunistic hate-driven campaign.
"There is a very strong community in New Addington. The BNP is seeking to divide this strong community and create tensions in a community where people from many different races and religions happily live together and support each other. Sadly, this is not the first time they have tried to do this in New Addington. The BNP has, throughout this campaign, sought to whip up fear and incite islamophobia. Apart from anything else, this is so wrong for the approximately one in twenty residents of New Addington who are Muslim. We believe that, as before, the people of New Addington will unite to oppose this.
"As well as all sorts of distortions and half-truths peddled by the BNP, the whole basis of this campaign is flawed. They have mis-represented an article with a misleading headline about a Muslim group that was looking for a site to worship from somewhere in the east of the Borough and turned it into a fiction that there is a plan to build a mosque in New Addington.
"The BNP like to think of themselves as patriots. But there is nothing British about seeking to deny people the freedom to practice their religion. Their values are the opposite of British values.
"New Addington is a venue for many different religions and religious groups, who celebrate their religion at various venues, some dedicated and some multi-use buildings. We believe in religious tolerance and religious freedom and that different religions should be able to celebrate their faith. We therefore would have no problem with the principle of there being a mosque in New Addington.
"We are committed to supporting New Addington to remain a tolerant community with a strong sense of community and identity."