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I’ll start this post with a confession: I rather like Mosques. Some, though by no means all, are grandly dignified, even beautiful. Indeed, architecturally considered, they can be counted as one of the very few artistic triumphs in all the Islamic World’s long, unproductive history.

They have also been much imitated, including in the West. The Royal Pavilion in Brighton, England clearly aims for an Islamic style, as do many of the older churches and cathedrals of Europe (though how appropriate that is, I don’t attempt to measure).

The geometric artwork of a Mosque interior can be equally splendid and betray a real talent in the designers. This art has likewise influenced the infidel world and its style can be seen today in the pattern-work of house furniture, carpets, curtains and dresses.

Some of the Mosques of the East, and in particular those of Iran and Saudi Arabia, are so impressive that they seem wholly out of place inside the undeveloped surrounds of their location (a good example being the ‘Mosque of the Prophet’ in Medina, Saudi Arabia). One has to wonder why such people cannot build libraries and houses with the same dedication and care. Surely if they did so, the Islamic World would be an exhibition of unrivalled majesty. I suppose it’s a matter of priorities…

Of course, what a Mosque looks like and what it represents are very separate and distinct things to consider. A mosque may appear the pleasant product of human creativity, but its symbolism (for those outside the faith) is decidedly more sinister.

Mosques, whatever their spiritual significance within Islam, are a boast; a sign of advancing cultural and religious conquest. The spear-like minarets that dwarf the church spires and tower blocks of infidel cities announce the permanence of Islam in that region. The long reach of the Muezzin call to prayer, drifting every day across distant neighbourhoods, articulates the scale of Muslim ambition; a world faith; a faith to subsume the world entirely.

The call to prayer is not merely a call for Muslims to attend prayers. This is very important to understand. Rather, this musical plea is for all people to come to Islam itself. It is hostile, spiritual propaganda of the grandest kind.

And an increasing number of people are aware of this. When the Swiss People’s Party petitioned the national government to ban the construction of minarets in that country, they were promptly dismissed by conservatives as crackpot. What, sceptics wondered, is the point of banning minarets alone, and leaving the mosques standing? The answer supplied by SPP members was that minarets, through their size and appearance, are ‘aggressive’; that in dwarfing the surrounding areas they are making a statement of ‘supremacy’.

While mysterious to some, this makes perfect sense to me. As the President of Turkey eloquently (and proudly) put it – minarets are the ‘bayonets’ of Islamic conquest.

Despite mass Muslim immigration into Britain being a relatively recent phenomenon (beginning around 1950 and only accelerating to contemporary proportions in the 1970s) the number of Mosques in Britain is already bewildering. There are over 1500 (one thousand five hundred) such buildings in Britain as of 2015, most of which are clustered in specific areas, giving those regions an increasingly foreign character.

There are 383 Mosques in the City of London alone, a figure that is rising rapidly all the time. While there are still more standing Churches in the city, it is fair to speculate that the number of active Mosques (that is to say, Mosques which attract large and faithful congregations) already surpasses the number of active Churches.

There are 59 Mosques in Leicester, with the growth of the local Muslim population there causing a correlating decrease in the number of Christian institutions (churches in Leicester are closing at a higher rate than the national average). A similar picture can be painted of Bradford (80 Mosques), Birmingham (161 Mosques) and Sheffield (33 Mosques).

Tensions are an inevitable result of this. A great deal of British culture is being paved over (against the wishes of the majority) with something hostile, different and unattractive. News reports this week of a pig’s head being left at the doors of a Mosque is far from unusual. Nor are bomb threats, arson attempts and other forms of law-breaking.

I won’t ever endorse or apologize for that kind of stunt (the juvenile actions described benefit no one), but I do urge the government to understand the great offence these buildings cause to Christian and minority communities. We know what they stand for. Jews know what they stand for. Hindus know what they stand for. And our voice of intolerance (yes, we are right to be intolerant of this) must eventually be heard.

D, LDN.

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