Sydney residents protest building of new Islamic school

November 14th, 2007 - 8:33 am ICT by admin  
Residents have said that the school would bring violence to the suburb and turn it into a “dirty looking town like Lakemba”.

According to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald website, the Camden Council made public an application from the Quranic Society to build Camden College, a primary school and high school for 600 students each on Burragorang and Cawdor Roads.

The site is now farmland and the one house on the land might be turned into a caretaker’s residence.

Some residents have also been circulating a text message urging people to voice their opposition to the council’s announcement.

“The council requires 600 written dated n signed letters objecting 2the proposal of the Muslim school in Camden. Don’t miss the oppoutunity2have your say before its2late,” the SMS says.

It gives a postal address for the mayor and tells recipients to forward the message to everyone they know.

Camden Mayor Chris Patterson said most of the 270 responses received so far opposed the plan on “perceived problems with traffic, rural lifestyle and amenities” but concerns aired in posts on the local newspaper’s website were more blunt.

A Camden Advertiser reader, who identified herself only as Hayley, said she felt sick. “The thought of our beautiful Camden accommodating to this religion is a disgrace … This Islamic school will change the town forever,” she said.

A resident of 14 years, Gary Wright, said if Camden Council wished to bring crime and corruption to Camden and make it a “dirty looking town like Lakemba I supose [sic] they will go ahead anyhow”.

In the 2006 census, Camden had 3166 residents of which 69 per cent identified themselves as Christian and 13 per cent as having no religion.

The spokesman for the Quranic Society, Jeremy Bingham, said he had anticipated the religious backlash.

“People fear what they don’t yet understand. There’s nothing at all for people to be afraid of any more than they need to be afraid of Catholics or Jews or Protestants,” he was quoted, as saying.

Kindergarten to year 3 pupils would be enrolled first to the school, which could open for the 2009 school year. New grades would be added each year and children would not have to be Muslim to enrol, Mr Bingham said.

Students would be taught subjects in line with the government syllabus in a structure that allowed for prayer and time dedicated to religious instruction - just like in other church schools, he said.

Patterson said no decision would be made on the proposal until early next year. Development plans are on display at Camden and Narellan libraries and Camden Council until November 14. (ANI)

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