Over the bank holiday weekend, anonymous leaflets were distributed in Soho – and elsewhere in the West End – which urge residents to oppose plans to open a religious centre for Muslims on the site of the Trocedero building (19 Rupert Street).
Whilst it is legitimate for groups to oppose and run campaigns against planning applications, Labour believes that campaigns should be open and transparent about the group or source behind them. This is especially important when there are sensitivities involved that could lead to charges around Islamophobia or other forms of religious discrimination.
With regards to this specific planning application, concerns have already been raised by members of the Soho community in correspondence with councillors that the motives for opposing this application are indeed Islamophobic.
Labour is calling for the group or source behind the campaign to be transparent about who they are.
Councillor Pancho Lewis said:
“Notwithstanding one’s view on the merits or disadvantages of this particular application – people can reasonably agree or disagree – it is absolutely imperative there is no secrecy that prevent members of the public from seeing who is behind this campaign.
“Islamophibia is a very real and live issue that affects Muslims up and down the country. If someone or a group is going to campaign against a mosque or other religious centre being built they have to be have transparent and upfront about who they are. Literature shouldn’t be anonymous.”