Almost 30 faith leaders in north London have condemned as racist objections made by some residents to a new Islamic centre based in the former Hippodrome in Golders Green.

Markaz El Tathgheef El Eslami, or the Centre for Islamic Understanding, paid £5.25m for the Hippodrome, which once hosted Marlene Dietrich, Laurence Olivier and the Kinks. It has submitted a planning application to Barnet council for the venue to be used as a Muslim community centre and mosque.

The proposal triggered a wave of objections from residents, many of whom cited concerns such as parking and congestion. But some openly opposed a Muslim centre in an area with a large Jewish population on the grounds that it would attract "undesirables" or endanger people's safety. The centre would "make this beautiful neighbourhood too crowded with loads of burkas and veils", wrote one resident.

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