Wrexham Mosque

The town's small but significant population of 1,500 Muslims include many staff from the local Wrexham Maelor hospital, and students of Glyndŵr University. They originate from around 56 countries. With the nearest mosques in Rhyl and Chester, most working people were unable to make Friday prayers.
 
The town's first mosque, a room above a kebab shop, was set up 1987, but only housed around seven people. Glyndŵr University stepped in in 1995 and provided a portakabin.
 
Every Friday, between 100 to 140 Muslims attended prayers; but a lack of space meant women and children were unable to take part.
 

 

As founder members of TCC, the association enlisted their help to search for a building. They held a number of meetings with the council to find a suitable building to buy - without success. Park Street Church in Rhosddu was considered suitable but was sold with planning permission for housing: a Welsh Presbyterian church was almost purchased but covenants rendered the property unsuitable.  Further commercial sites were unsuitable or too expensive.
 
But as property prices dropped, more buildings became available. The Miners' Institute, had closed in 2008 after a drop in membership; it was derelict after its owners had gone bankrupt.
 
Despite concerns about local opposition, the Wrexham Muslim Association bought the building. The reaction was negative. The anti-Islam English Defence league mounted a campaign against the mosque, and held a demonstration in the town. Hundreds of abusive comments were posted on social media sites.
 
But, working alongside TCC, the association invited politicians, councillors and community representatives to come and see the building, and hear their imam speak. Supporters spoke out against the protests, and tensions were diffused.
 
The association have pledged to preserve the Institute's rich history, placing the building back in the heart of the community.
 
Dr Ikram Shah, 70, arrived in Wrexham from his native Pakistan in 1967. He has worked as a doctor in the town for 26 years.
 
As a founder member of TCC, he has been involved with a number of actions before TCC supported his bid to establish the mosque.
 
“When we went to negotiate with the council, we had two other TCC members with us and they were wearing dog collars. The deputy chief executive said: “Excuse me, I'm a bit puzzled, you've come to talk to us about the mosque, so what are the two clergy wearing dog collars doing with you?” We said: “We support them, we are with them.”
 
“TCC have been extremely helpful in that way; people are saying we're part of the community, and we’re working with the community as a community organisation.
 
“Because TCC have group instead of individual membership, we were all part of the big community - rather than an isolated, small, group. People knew us, they knew our faces, they talked to us, they understood what we said. It was on an equal basis.
 
“The first time I asked TCC to help us was when we were trying with the Council and we were getting nowhere – they were all very nice and very friendly but nothing got done.
 
“I asked TCC at the strategy meeting whether they would take it up as one of their projects, so we were extremely grateful that they agreed. They were with us all the time.
 
“With their help and support, all the documents were ready.  We had the building which the council agreed to let us have on a lease. The contract was ready to sign, so we were lucky. They knew we were looking for a permanent place, so we were very fortunate that this place came up and that we were able to acquire it. 
 
“We heard about the EDL and the BNP and these kinds of people, so we expected some sort of resistance. But with TCC's help and support, and all the links in the community, they were all our supporters.
 
“Even the day the EDL came to demonstrate in the town – a very small number – they gathered in a pub and were chased out by some old ladies who said, “We don't want you here.” And there was a vigil by the churches in our support, so we can't thank them enough for that. It was extremely helpful.”

 

 

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37 Kingsmills Road, Wrexham. LL13 8NH

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