Man convicted of religiously aggravated harassment pledges 'day of action' in Northampton over mosque extension

Central Mosque, Abington Avenue
Central Mosque, Abington Avenue

A former convict has pledged to hold protests in Northampton over a decision by councillors to grant an extension to a mosque.

Paul Golding was jailed for 18 weeks earlier this year for religiously aggravated harassment of Muslims.

Now his far-right Britain First group is emailing people in Northampton encouraging them to complain about the extension at Central Mosque, Abington Avenue, focusing on parking issues.

But he confirmed to the Chronicle & Echo his other reason was due to claims of concerns "over an increase in the number of Muslims in the area", claims that have been dismissed by the Imam at the mosque.

Golding said Britain First was planning town centre 'days of action', a march and, depending on gaining police permission, a protest outside the mosque itself.

The days of action would entail giving out "thousands of leaflets" and "patriotic music blaring out", he said.

Emails from Britain First that have been shared with the Chron link to a page that implies 2,200 people have complained to the council's planning department via the Britain First website.

However, only 32 complaints were received prior the councillors approving the extension. And it is understood complaints received by the council since the September planning meeting number only four.

His claims that have been entirely dismissed by the Imam.

Imam Ashraf Omani, of Central Mosque, said people in Northampton were sensible enough to make up their own minds about Britain First's motives.

He said: "[Mr Golding] can do whatever he likes. People living in Northampton are quite supportive of the mosque. They are sensible enough to see what his group are doing."

Mr Omani said that the extension would not add to traffic problems in Abington Avenue as the planned wash facilities and new kitchen were for current worshippers.

His comments support those of councillors on the planning committee. They rejected the argument that more worshippers would be attracted to the mosque after the extension.

They acknowledged the parking difficulties at prayer times. But they accepted that the extension does not encroach onto the parking area and does not increase the floor area used for prayer and gatherings. The purpose of the extension is to improve the viewing area at times of funerals, new wash facilities and provide a new kitchen.