Plans by a missionary Islamic sect to build one of Britain's largest mosques that left a community divided and attracted far-right groups, including the English Defence League, were tonight rejected.
Police officers were stationed outside the Old Town Hall of the east London borough of Newham as about 3,000 supporters of the plans to build the mosque gathered tonight. Tablighi Jamaat, a socially conservative Muslim revivalist movement with a strong presence in east London, wanted to build a mosque on a site in West Ham, close to the Olympic Park, to accommodate more than 9,000 worshippers – about four times the capacity of St Paul's. If the plans were approved, the building would place the site on a par with Morden's Baitul Futuh, the largest mosque in western Europe.
Opposition initially came from locals but in more recent years the mosque issue has become a magnet for far-right groups such as the EDL, which has looked to exploit the controversy as part of its wider protests against Islam.