We’re betting a Catholic school would never have faced the same objections nor would have generated any threats of violence against councillors.
From the ABC:
Public wars with council over new Islamic school
By George Roberts for AM
Sydney’s south-west is once again the battleground over plans to build a new Islamic school.
Last night, the Liverpool Council approved the school, despite some councillors’ attempts to send the project back to the drawing board.
The decision comes less than a month after the Land and Environment Court rejected plans to build an Islamic school further west, in Camden.
There are about 30 Islamic schools in Australia, with about half of those in New South Wales.
Eager to hear whether Hoxton Park would have a new school, locals packed the Council Chamber and spilled out into the lobby.
This time allegations of racism and threats against council members have marred celebrations over the approval of the school.
The Malek Fahd Islamic school already has one campus in Greenacre and wants to build another further west.
Two weeks ago, the Liverpool Council approved the school, but three councillors moved a motion to send it to another vote.
Last night, that motion was defeated 6-4, allowing the school to go ahead.
Outside the chamber, the debate was far from over.
“It’s devastating. They just haven’t any regard for the concerns of people in the area,” one man said.
“To me it sounds like the council aren’t hearing the residents of Hoxton Park,” one woman said.
“We feel neglected by our council. Our council has let us down on numerous occasions and this is just another occasion,” another man said.
While speaking in favour of the school, Councillor Mazhav Hadid became angry, claiming there had been threats made against fellow councillors over the vote.
Later he told AM that police were investigating the threats.
But not everyone is upset, including the principal of the new school, Dr Intaj Ali.
“We are very pleased with the decision. I’m very pleased that the councillors made the decision based on purely planning grounds,” he said.
“We will do our best to work with the residents and the council, of course.”
Some locals say there are already three schools in the area and too much traffic.
“We are already overloaded. We don’t need another 800 kids, which is going to put 500 cars on the road,” one man said.
“We would have to move. I could not see myself living there with that kind of traffic going in front of my house,” a woman said.
Geoff Newcombe from the New South Wales Independent Schools Association says that is just an excuse for prejudice.
“Schools, be they government, Catholic or independent schools, have the right to establish in any area as long as they comply with planning conditions and this school clearly has,” he said.
“I think it shows that our democracy is working and that we’re not responding to emotional or racial pressures.”
But some local residents reject accusations that they are racist.
“Having the school would not bother me, but where they’re putting it; that’s what concerns me,” one woman said.
Those opposed to the school are vowing to take the matter further. Their only option may be court action.