'Sharia zone': Christian pastor fires up over mosque-next-door plan

Anti-Islam crusader Daniel Nalliah and his evangelical Christian church are set to fight a plan to build a mosque in the same street.

Mr Nalliah, a pastor at Catch the Fire Ministries, said his church was weeks away from building a $2 million base at 25 Green Street, Doveton.

He recently learnt of a planning application by an Afghan community group to build the Omar Farooq Mosque next door. The church, along with more than 100 petitioners including adjoining residents, will formally object to Casey Council over the mosque proposal.

No objections had been raised against Catch the Fire's church, which had been approved by the council, Mr Nalliah said.

Afghan-Australian Association of Victoria president Khaliq Fazal, as spokesman for the mosque proponents, accused Mr Nalliah and his church of distributing "hysterical" anti-mosque leaflets to "agitate" neighbours.

He said the mosque was a "place for peace and for the worship of the same god that we all believe in".

"The Afghan community has a very good reputation and has assimilated well in a multicultural society since the 1860s. We've never had any problem with any other religions. We believe in Jesus Christ as well, so what's the problem?"

Mr Nalliah — an outspoken figure who sparked outrage for attributing Black Saturday bushfires to Victoria's abortion laws — said he did not know who was behind the leaflets.

He said his objections to the mosque trailed back to a long-running racial vilification dispute with the Islamic Council of Victoria over a Catch the Fire newsletter about Muslims and the Koran in 2002.

Mr Nalliah said he and his family received death threats during the dispute, which cost the church $600,000. "Not once have we said people should bust up a Muslim or burn down a mosque.

"We don't approve of Islam as a religion but we love Muslim people. Islam teaches that those who follow other religions are infidels.

"It is a religion that doesn't value freedom of religion. Having those same teachings right under our noses is counter-productive to our church."

He said that homes vacated by "fed-up" neighbours would be bought up by Muslims, creating a "sharia [the moral code and religious law of Islam] zone".

Casey planning manager Duncan Turner said the council would consider any public submissions "received up until it makes its decision".

- The Casey Weekly

The story 'Sharia zone': Christian pastor fires up over mosque-next-door plan first appeared on The Age.

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