Buchanan Mosque approved by Cessnock Council


This is my ‘official’ thank you note to everyone who made it possible for Cessnock Council to approve the mosque at Buchanan last night (Wednesday 20th July).

To the Newcaslte Muslim Association, Phillipa Parsons from Newcastle: Unity in Diversity, Uniting Church Hunter Presbytery, Jo Wickham from Refugee Action Network, the Olive Ribbon Campaign, Sister Diana Santleben from Hunter Refugees & Partners Inc, Tim Plater and Mark Stevenage, and more.

It was inspiring to have so much community good will to assit Cessnock Council across the line. Your goodwill and support has been absolutely vital.

Unfortunately since the decision a reference has been made on Facebook to bombing the Council Chambers and setting fire to the mosque. These have been reported to police by Cessnock Council.

The Rise Up Australia Party submission to Cessnock Councillors urging us not to approve the mosque is probably the most disturbing document I have ever read! must be refuted at every turn.

James Ryan

Nathan Paterson holds his fist in the air in a rally against Buchanan Mosque in Cessnock in 2015.

Furore as Buchanan mosque is approved in the Hunter Valley

July 21 2016 Sydney Morning Herald

  • Georgina Mitchell and Sage Swinton

Members of a group opposing a mosque in the NSW Hunter region have branded the local council “traitors” and pledged the fight is “not over” after councillors voted in favour of its development application.

In a tense meeting at Cessnock City Council on Wednesday night, which was watched over by police, councillors voted 6 – 4 in favour of the mosque and funeral home in the rural area of Buchanan, near Kurri Kurri.

Nathan Paterson holds his fist in the air in a rally against Buchanan Mosque in Cessnock in 2015. Photo: Perry Duffin

The mosque’s opponents immediately took to social media to decry the decision and some promoted violence against both the planned place of worship and the council chambers.

“Sounds like the council chambers might need a bomb,” one man wrote on an anti-mosque Facebook page, while three separate people proposed setting the mosque on fire.

Cessnock Councillor Catherine Parsons looks at two protest placards left outside the council meeting.
Cessnock Councillor Catherine Parsons looks at two protest placards left outside the council meeting. Photo: Newcastle Herald

“If it is approved I hope it is burnt to the ground,” a man wrote on the STOP the Buchanan Mosque – kurri kurri page.

“I bet a packet of matches and a litre or two of petrol it won’t last long,” another said. A third man added: “Isnt that a bushfire prone area? We can only hope!

Another poster on the page said residents “need to bring out the fighter in all of us and make them think twice about where they want to lay their hijabs”.

The mosque has been a lightning rod for controversy since it was proposed last year, with anti-Islam group Reclaim Australia kicking off opposition with a march in the main street of Cessnock in November.

Police line up at Cessnock City Council, where protesters gathered as a mosque was approved on Wednesday night.
Police line up at Cessnock City Council, where protesters gathered as a mosque was approved on Wednesday night. Photo: Newcastle Herald

Councillor James Ryan – who also voted in favour of the mosque – lamented that the situation had become about more than the mosque itself.

“We have just been dragged into a racist, Islamophobic debate,” he said.

The proposed site for the Mosque and funeral home, on Buchanan Road at Buchanan.
The proposed site for the Mosque and funeral home, on Buchanan Road at Buchanan. Photo: Marina Neil

Those speaking in favour of the mosque said it was a chance to promote harmony and inclusion, would not cause adverse traffic issues, and would be open to any groups who wished to visit in the spirit of “the good old Aussie fair go”.

Protests continued at the council chambers on Wednesday evening, with two placards displayed outside which linked the mosque to terrorism and paedophilia.

An illustration of Buchanan mosque distributed to residents by Newcastle Muslim Association in 2015.
An illustration of Buchanan mosque distributed to residents by Newcastle Muslim Association in 2015. Photo: Supplied.

The first placard listed terror attacks around the world with the heading “enough is enough”, while the second read in part: “Where [sic] only interested in good people and good values in our community. Dosn’t matter what religion or race we have no room for pedafiles, rapist, suisiders, murderers.”

In a statement, Cessnock City Mayor Bob Pynsent – who voted in favour of the development – said the application complied with the relevant planning provisions.

“Council carefully considered the public submissions and planning merit,” Cr Pynsent said. “Tonight’s decision is a reflection of that.”

In a council meeting which lasted for two and a half hours, residents who spoke against the mosque said they were concerned about traffic congestion in the area, the safety of their children travelling to school and fears of increased crime, including one Muslim man who said the place of worship was not suited to the area.

One resident also pointed out the mosque’s address would be 911 Buchanan Road, which would keep the September 11 terror attacks in the back of his mind.

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