Gungahlin mosque gets green light BY BIANCA HALL
[English Text only]
Canberra's Muslim community was yesterday celebrating after the ACT Government announced it had approved a Gungahlin site for the capital's second mosque.
The site, on the south-east corner of Hinder Street and The Valley Avenue, will be offered to the community for sale in April once valuations and land surveys are complete.
Canberra Muslim Community has long held plans to build a new mosque in Canberra.
President Borhan Ahmed said the number of people attending services at the city's Yarralumla mosque meant some worshippers were forced to kneel outside to pray.
''I came to Canberra in 1993, and the people at Canberra Mosque it is three, four, five-fold now what it was then,'' he said.
Since 2003, the group has searched for a new site. Last year, it abandoned plans for a mosque in Nicholls after a public backlash over car-parking and traffic concerns.
The Gungahlin site, which stretches over 5390sqm, would have room for 500 people to pray at any one time, as well as a community centre and overflow parking areas.
Chief Minister Jon Stanhope said the site had been selected after ''extensive consultation'' with the CMC and broader community. ''The CMC has a large and growing membership and the new mosque in the Gungahlin Town Centre will cater for its members for the coming decades''
Figures on religious affiliation are compiled only by the Australian Bureau of Statistics as part of the census data. The most recent data, issued in 2006, shows Canberra's Muslim population is rising steadily; between 1996 and 2006, the number of people identifying as Muslim grew from 2458 to 4364.
But it is likely these figures due to be updated in the August census are out of date. For example, Mr Ahmed said about 50 Muslim Bangladeshi families had moved to the Franklin area in the past three years.
For more on this story see the print edition of today's Canberra Times.
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