Norfolk

Racist messages about King's Lynn Islamic centre taken off website

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Media captionMore than 700 people have signed a petition against the centre

Racist and offensive messages are being removed from a council website inviting comments on a planned Islamic centre in west Norfolk.

The local Islamic Association wants to convert a former pub in London Road, King's Lynn, into a centre for prayer, education and social events.

Hundreds of objections have been posted on the borough council's website and some of them have been inappropriate.

A spokeswoman said the council reserved the right to remove offensive material.

"People whose comments were removed were informed that their comments would not be published or taken into account in the planning process."

'Building a bridge'

The West Norfolk Islamic Association wants to refurbish the former Queen's Arms pub, but campaigners claim the centre would be "exclusive" and become a target for crime and vandalism.

A report to the West Norfolk planning committee recommends approval.

But more than 735 people have signed a petition against the centre and 140 letters have been sent to the Borough Council of King's Lynn and West Norfolk.

Stephen Tweed, from the British Freedom Party, said he opposed the plans as the community centre would be "exclusive, it will not be for the general public, it will be for Muslims only".

Sohale Rahman, an imam who leads prayers at a west Norfolk mosque, said: "We could invite members of other faiths and the wider community to listen to discussion and topics.

"I think it helps build a bridge and it's better to have a bridge than not have one."

PC Pat Kavanagh, a hate crime officer with Norfolk Police, said: "People are allowed to voice their concerns and opinions, but I think they need to manage that by not being racist or intolerant.

"Nobody would be worried about changing a church into a house, but they are worried about changing a dilapidated building into an Islamic community centre."

The final decision on the plan will be made on Monday.

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