I finally got down to Brick Lane to see the new widely discussed, and controversial 90ft “minaret” or “structure” or “minaret-shaped tower” that now sits at 59 Brick Lane.
This building used to be the site of a French Protestant church, funny enough, which then transformed into a Methodist Chapel and later into a synagogue before it became the Jamme Masjid Mosque that it is today with the men’s entrance on Brick Lane and the women’s entrance around the corner on Fournier Street. Sermons are delivered in Sylheti Bengali as the majority of worshipers are Bangladeshi immigrants.
Erected mid-December, the controversy falls around the fact that it was built with public money and the whole complicated debate of the place of religion vs secularism in communities. Original plans for Tower Hamlets Council regeneration scheme included a set of hijab-shaped gates as part of a “cultural trail” around Brick Lane.
International Alert is screening Pray the Devil Back to Hell next week. I hear it’s well worth catching so I thought I’d share.
It’s an inspiring story about brave Liberian women, both Christian and Muslim, who helped restore peace in their country torn apart by a brutal civil war through non-violent protests. Awarded Best Documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival, it is said to be an eye-opener to the power of ordinary people and grassroots activism.