The South London Press reports that approval of plans to create a Tibetan Buddhist meditation centre in Lambeth, south London, has sparked controversy and protests from Christian and Muslim groups, as well as the local MP, amid claims that the centre’s backers are anti-Christian and anti-Muslim.
From the local paper:
“The biggest Tibetan Buddhist meditation centre in London will be created following planning approval – despite protests from Muslim and Christian groups.
“On Tuesday evening, Lambeth council’s planning committee approved the plans for the former Beaufoy Institute, in Black Prince Road, Kennington, to become the Diamond Way Buddhism (DWB) organisation.
“However, more than 40 protesters from the Lambeth Muslim Forum and the Lambeth Interfaith Network protested outside Lambeth Town Hall, in Brixton Hill amid claims the organisation is anti-Muslim and anti-Christian.
“Objections…also came from the Lambeth Against Racism and Islamophobia group and Vauxhall MP Kate Hoey.
“DWB is a the world’s largest lay Buddhist organisation, following the western Karma Kagyu lineage, under the Lama Ole Nydahl.
“The controversy has arisen from comments made by Lama Nydahl during interviews and online, on “radical Islam” and scandals in Christian churches.
A member of the Lambeth Muslim Forum and trustee of Stockwell Mosque, Toaha Qureshi stated that protesters are not against Buddhism, but “against this particular faction of Diamond Way because we believe their leader preaches hate.”
A trustee of DWB, Steve James argued that the organisation is not Islamophobic, although “one of our teachers, Lama Ole Nydahl, has made personal statements on world affairs in press interviews.
“The occasional comments he has made about radical Islam have been grouped together and circulated in order to cause offence.”
Islamophobia Watch has in the past reported on DWB and its support for far-right organisations on protests against the construction of mosques. As Islamophobia Watch records, Lama Ole Nydahl is notorious for his anti-Islam rhetoric. In an interview given in 2008, in response to the interviewers question, “In your view, is there a redeeming value within the Abrahamic religions?" Nydahl replied:
"The Abrahamic religions, the ones that follow our constitution, treat women well, don't blow up people ... Judaism and Christianity are fine. Islam, I warn against. I know the Koran, I know the life story of Mohammad and I think we cannot use that in our society today. People like the Sufis and Bahá'ís are different, right. They are usually being killed as soon as the mainline Muslims come in, they start killing the other guys."
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