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Don’t panic, they’re Islamic

March 8, 2010

I recently stumbled across this remarkable building in London.

Westminster Cathedral, the Mother Church of Catholicism in the UK

Its neo-Byzantine (think Islamic, but in Roman times) architecture belies its real function – that of the central Catholic church in the UK. It’s certainly the most grand Islamic-style building I know if in the whole country, except maybe Regents Park Mosque.

This building set of off on a trail of thought, firstly I wondered what the Swiss would make of the church’s eighty-seven meter high minaret style tower.

Westminster Cathedral took eight years to construct, starting in 1895

Westminster Cathedral took eight years to construct, starting in 1895

Would this beautiful (Christian) building be unconstitutional in Switzerland?

Regardless of Switzerland, it also forced me to consider the current issue of Islamophobia in Britain. One of the lightning rods for this hatred was the furore surrounding the now dead-in-the-water ‘Mega Mosque’ planned for West Ham. This saga has been rumbling on since 1996.

The £100m-£300m Mosque was designed by renowned architects Allies and Morrison, and would have had a capacity of 40,000 worshippers.

The futuristic Allies and Morrison mosque

The rallying against the mosque in West Ham, and the minaret ban in Switzerland are clearly symptomatic of deeper issues within our society and the current, at best, misunderstanding and at worst, outright hatred towards our fellow countrymen and women.

Finally, the building made me realise there’s a degree of irony in that the chair of the Catholic church is an Islamic influenced building, when one regards the history of anti-Catholicism in the UK.

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