Muslim group in Australia receives terror threats after announcing plans to buy church hall

(Pixabay/rise-a-mui)Representative image: A Muslim group has received "terrorist" threats after announcing plans to turn a church hall into an Islamic community center.

A group of Muslims in Queensland, Australia has reportedly received terrorist-style threats after announcing plans to buy a church hall and turn it into an Islamic community center.

According to a report from Daily Mail, the Muslim community in Gympie, north of Brisbane, were looking to buy a building in the area, and distributed a promotional flyer for an event to raise money for the sale. But the group began to be harassed on Facebook and in phone messages because the flyer had described the plans for the community center as the "Gympie Mosque Project."

Gympie accountant Shahid Kahn said that the Muslim community has been running a center in a property near the new building's Lady Mary Terrace location for over a decade, but has never encountered a problem.

"I've been living in Gympie since 1984 and I've had nothing but acceptance and long standing friendships. I don't see how owning our own hall is going to change anything," Kahn told The Gympie Times.

The flyer that was posted online mentioned that the small Muslim community had a "big hope" to find a place where they could conduct Jumma prayers.

Kahn noted that many of those attending the group's congregational worship on Fridays are professional people in medicine and business.

Kahn said that the mention of the word "mosque" to describe the building they wanted to buy had simply been a mistake.

"It's not a mosque, it's a church hall we want to buy from the Church of England. I probably did not take the mistake seriously enough and didn't do enough about clarifying it," Kahn said.

"Mosques don't have toilets or kitchens in the same building, nor do Christian churches. We don't have an imam and we are not in a position to have five prayers a day," he continued.

The building that the group was planning to buy is believed to sit on approximately 1,518 square meters (.375 acres) of land, and comprise of a 20-meter hall, large kitchen and toilets.

Gympie Times noted that Kahn was unwilling to pose for pictures after the threats he received, but the accountant contended that Islam and Christianity have so much in common that it is "ridiculous" that they should be in dispute.

This was not the first time that Queensland residents had a dispute over a mosque. In June, up to 400 residents protested plans by the Islamic Multicultural Association Gold Coast to expand a mosque in Worongary to cater for 200 worshippers.

The expansion plan was backed by a councilor, but the mayor objected to the proposal, noting that the council had already decided to reject the original application for the mosque in 2012.

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