Plan to open mosque in Trocadero in London sparks objections

The Trocadero is in an area of London known for its bars and nightlife, which is one of the factors cited in objections to part of it being converted into a place of worship. Photograph: David Levene/The Guardian

The Guardian: A plan to convert part of the famous Trocadero building in Piccadilly Circus in London into a mosque has sparked objections from people who say a place of worship in an area noted for its bars and nightlife is inappropriate.

The Aziz Foundation, a charity that offers educational grants and scholarships to Muslims, has applied to Westminster city council for permission to convert the basement and ground floor of the Trocadero into a place of worship and a community centre.

The Trocadero is owned by Asif Aziz, the chief executive of Criterion Capital, which manages a £2bn property portfolio across London and the south-east. The businessman set up the Aziz Foundation in 2015.

According to the foundation, the mosque proposal would “serve the Muslim community who live and work in the West End and provide community space to those of all faiths and none”.

The basement of the Trocadero has been empty since 2005, it added. The prayer space would be open on weekdays between 11am and 7pm and would be likely to attract fewer than 100 people except for Friday prayers, “which will attract near-capacity attendance” of 1,000.

“This space is needed because there is a lack of capacity for Muslims to pray in the West End at the moment and currently no dedicated prayer space for women,” the foundation said. A separate “contemplation room” and cafe will be open to everyone.

Many of those objecting to the plan have described the proposal as a “mega mosque”.

Social media has been used to encourage people to lodge objections as part of Westminster council’s consultation process.

A video posted on Friday by The Iconoclast, an anonymous white nationalist vlogger, urging people to oppose the plan because of the dangers it posed to the “native people of this country”, triggered a surge in objections to Westminster council.

One comment posted on Westminster council’s website by “a concerned londoner and english citizen” said a mosque was “totally incongruous with the nature of the area, which had remained a site of culture and entertainment throughout our history. There are no other places of worship in the area and imposing a mosque would change the character of this area beyond recognition”.

Another said: “I think it’s a travesty that we should sacrifice a building that was built before our time in such grand detail to Islam, which is not the religion of this country.”

A number of objectors said the presence of large numbers of Muslims in the area may make LGBT people living and socialising in nearby Soho uncomfortable, and that a mosque would “change the culture” of the area.

But there has also been support for the plan. “As a disabled Muslim who works in central London and a stone’s throw from the Trocadero, finding a mosque wherein which to pray that is accessible has been fraught with problems as it is always overcrowded in the smaller mosques.

“Yes the location of the mosque causes controversy amongst the locals, however, as far as Muslims are concerned we want a place to worship, not incite hatred,” said one.

Another said the mosque “will help regenerate the area and showcase London’s multicultural diverse nature, highlighting to visitors from around the world that it is an inclusive and welcoming city to all faiths and cultures”.

Westminster council’s consultation on the proposal closes on 28 May, and a decision is expected later this year.

Cafe Rumi

On my street, Calle Choquechaka. In Quechua, the old native local language, "Rumi" means "rock."

Change your name

From my late mother who changed her name many times: 

"Dearest Jahonshah let's change your name if you don't like it. We all have. (Your brother) Jamshid said he had a break through when he dropped the Ghahremani and went for the simpler, cleaner, jugular Ghajar. Names do make a difference. And I think after the age of nine we should choose our own. I'm writing to you on top of my herbs book."

از مرحوم مادرم:

جهانشاه عزیزم اگر اسمت را دوست نداری بیا عوضش کنیم. همه ما این کار را کرده ایم. (برادرت) جمشید می گفت برایش گشایشی بود وقتی لقب «قهرمانی» را انداخت و اسم فامیل ساده تر، تمیزتر و قویتر «قاجار» را انتخاب کرد. اسامی مهم هستند. و به عقیده من هر کسی بعد از سن نه سالگی باید نامش را خودش انتخاب کند. روی کتابم در مورد گیاهان دارم برایت می نویسم.

Hard labor

Carrying plastic bottles up Calle Chihuampata.

Peace and Love Rose

In the garden. 

Scott at sunset

My friend checking the view above Cusco.

Nicki Ghafari - I Belong In This Country

I Belong In This Country, But The Census Doesn’t Recognize That

“Feeling like you’re the ‘other’ and trapped between two worlds is something countless Iranian Americans and Middle Easterners have experienced.”

A couple weeks ago, my friend sent me a TikTok of someone ranting about whether they should be considered a person of color as a Middle Easterner. Her text read something along the lines of, “I feel like this is you in a nutshell.”

I laughed, knowing full well that I’ve shared the same gripes with her countless times. I also instinctively looked over at the U.S. census postcard collecting dust and cat hair on the floor of my foyer and cringed.

Completing the census is one of the easiest things the government asks us to do — or at least, it’s marketed that way. But I just can’t seem to muster up the energy to complete it, because the census has brought up a lot of emotions that I’ve been grappling with for as long as I can remember.


Which racial box should I check? Do I consider myself a person of color? Did that salesperson give us a dirty look because we were speaking in Farsi loudly in the Macy’s makeup department?

I’ve been asking myself some of these questions since I was about 6 or 7 years old, but I still don’t have the answers. By that age, I’d developed a thick unibrow, a peach fuzz mustache and coarse, unruly black hair that made me look like I had stuck my finger into an electrical socket. As one of the only Iranian Americans in my Catholic elementary school, I felt like a sea creature compared to my straight-haired, porcelain-skinned classmates.

Curious friends would pepper me with questions about my lunch, so I would beg my maman for Lunchables instead of the fragrant, saffron-infused rice and stew she packed with love every single day (she never caved, and I thank her for it). My classmates were often just excited that someone had brought something different to lunchtime, but as a third-grader, I desperately wanted to blend in and feel like I was one of the cool kids with a pre-packaged pizza kit and a Capri Sun.




Ready to jump

Valentino's playground.


A hummingbird in the garden with flower pollen dust on the top of her head.

Empty Plaza

Plaza de Armas today when I went to use the ATM machine.