London, UK: A British city has granted approval to a meat plant to be constructed next to a gurdwara despite stiff opposition from members of the Sikh community.
The Bradford Area Planning Panel approved the construction of a wholesale meat plant by Pakeezah, a leading meat retailer of the northern British city of Bradford, at what was previously a car workshop and is close to the Guru Gobind Singh Gurdwara.
Even as protesters gathered at the venue of the Bradford Area Planning Panel meeting on Tuesday with more people holding placards outside Bradford City Hall, the plan to construct the meat plant was approved by the narrowest of margins, the Telegraph & Argus reported on Wednesday.
According to the report, councillors Malcolm Sykes, Imran Khan and Alan Wainwright opposed the plan while councillors Shabir Hussain, Keith Dredge and Zameer Shah supported it. It was finally with the casting vote of panel chairman Shabir Hussain that the plan was approved.
“The purity and sanctity of the gurdwara is going to be seriously undermined and that will have an effect on the right to worship of Sikhs,” barrister Kuljeet Singh, representing the Sikh community, was quoted as saying.
Councillor Imran Khan, who opposed the plan, said the move was offensive to the Sikh community. “I’m a proud Muslim but I would find it very difficult to pray with someone chopping a pig up literally 20 metres away from me. To me, that would be offensive,” he said. “I think what we need to realise is that for the Sikh community this is the same thing.”
But councillor Dredge, who supported the plan, offered a contrasting view. “My beliefs dictate that people can believe what they want and worship what they want and I don’t wish to interfere with that in any way,” he was quoted saying. “But I don’t feel that this would affect worship at the Sikh temple,” he said. Meanwhile, Pakeezah director Tariq Haq said the decision “didn’t feel like a victory”. “The decision doesn’t feel like a victory as people are upset. But we want to do everything in our power to make a plant that won’t affect the temple,” he said.