Mosque lands support from university

FULL COVERAGE: Bendigo mosque: Emotion fuels debate

LA TROBE University has come out in support of the establishment of a mosque in Bendigo.

In a letter to the Bendigo Advertiser, head of the Bendigo campus Rob Stephenson congratulated the Muslim community for raising money to develop its own "house of worship".

"Since its establishment in 1998, the Muslim Prayer Room at the university’s Flora Hill campus has been the only one in Bendigo," the letter read.

"Originally developed for the use of students and staff studying at the campus, at various times the facility has also been used by the broader community, but is not of a size to accommodate all of those who would like to access the facility.

"The room has capacity for approximately forty people."

Mr Stephenson said Bendigo was growing in both size and population diversity and the mosque would celebrate religious and cultural diversity.

"This is part of what continues to enhance Bendigo’s reputation as a city of opportunity and innovation, and helps to make it an exciting and welcoming place in which to live and work," he wrote in the letter.

"La Trobe University sees this development as a natural component of the evolution of Bendigo, on its journey to becoming the best Regional City in Australia."

The letter comes in the wake of anti-Islamic protests after City of Greater Bendigo councillors approved the region's first mosque.

Meanwhile, the Victorian Council of Churches has also spoken out about the mosque.

"The Victorian Council of Churches expresses concern about the nature and content of reports concerning the proposal of a Mosque in Bendigo," a statement from the council reads.

"Those who oppose the construction appear to ignore the freedom of religious expression granted to every Australian in our constitution and the history of religious and cultural diversity that dates back to our early settlement ... the establishment of a mosque in Bendigo will provide a much needed cultural and religious gathering place for the many Muslim families and students ... objection to its establishment based on ill-informed statements as reported in the various media sources should be treated with the utmost caution and concern."

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