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Police braced for protests over proposed Islam culture centre in Deeside

COMMUNITY leaders in Deeside have met after plans to build an Islamic cultural centre in Shotton threatened to spark protests.

The Flintshire Muslim Cultural Society (FMCS) is aiming to set up the centre at the former Shotton Lane Social Club, which has been empty since it closed in August.

The group is more than halfway to raising the £150,000 needed to buy out the club after a TV appeal broadcast to the wider Muslim community.

But the proposal has sparked opposition from residents who took to Facebook to protest against what they call the planned ‘mosque’, while the BNP is co-ordinating a leaflet distribution campaign against the plans.

And the Chronicle understands police are bracing themselves for potential protests.

But BNP councillor John Walker said the right-wing party was keen to distance itself from any planned protest in Shotton.

However he believes the English Defence League (EDL) is rallying supporters to oppose the plans.

He said: “I am against this proposed protest by the EDL. This issue should be solved politically, at a local level.”

But he added: “Obviously the BNP is opposed to this.”

But FMCS chairman Monchab Ali insisted the proposal is not to build a mosque, but to promote a better understanding of the Islamic faith for the benefit of the wider community.

He said: “We all have a role to play in the community to work together. We are aiming to build an Islamic cultural centre, which will be open to everyone for people to learn about Islam.

“The idea is to promote community cohesion and we would invite schoolchildren to see the centre and get a better understanding of the Islamic faith and community.”

The society currently rents the Queensferry Institute building for Islamic and Arabic classes, which are held twice a week.

Deeside Sargeant Antony Heaword told the Chronicle: “North Wales Police is aware of comments posted on social networking sites opposed to the development of a community and cultural centre at Shotton Lane.

“Some of the comments may constitute criminal offences and these are being investigated.

“We have not been notified of any intended action towards the property or any persons associated with the development.

“However we are working with the whole community to address concerns and provide reassurance and will respond to any specific threat as appropriate.”