THE group behind plans to build a new mosque in Oxfordshire have told neighbours there is no reason to be alarmed.

Didcot Masjid Project said no decisions have yet been made about the location or design of the planned mosque and it remains just a long-term ambition at this stage.

Rumours have been circulating online that a mosque is being planned for Edinburgh Drive with some suggesting that work will begin this month but organiser Muhammad Islam said it was the first he had heard of it.

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He said: "There is no project yet, we have an ambition to build a mosque but no decisions have been made whatsoever.

"Edinburgh Drive is quite a residential part of the town so I am surprised to hear it being mentioned, we certainly haven't decided on a location yet."

Muslims feel a mosque is now needed in the south Oxfordshire town because of its growing population and the distances involved in travelling to alternative places of worship.

They are currently hiring spaces in local community centres, which is expensive, or make the lengthy trip to the nearest mosques in Oxford or Reading.

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Edinburgh Drive, Didcot (where there are no plans for a mosque).

Mr Islam said that no one has any reason to be alarmed at the prospect of a mosque being built nearby, adding that he was saddened to hear that some were planning to start a petition opposing it.

He said: "We are scientists, doctors and other professionals and we are British and our families have been here for a long time.

"I don't see why anyone would oppose this. We are free to organise our worship in the way we want.

"Ramadan is starting next week and we currently don't have anywhere to go.

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"In other places, Muslims use their mosques to distribute food to the homeless and organise charity events but we can't do this currently.

"Having a mosque here would bring benefits to the whole community."

Outgoing Didcot town council leader Steve Connel, said he was not aware of any formal approach by the group to the council about building the mosque.

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File photo of an open day at a mosque in Carlisle where local non-Muslims were invited to come and learn about Islam.

Speaking in a personal capacity, he said: "I only know what I have read online like everyone else, nothing has come in front of the council.

"Personally, I have no issue with anyone wanting to worship in whatever way they wish to.

"I would feel the same if it was a new synagogue or church we were talking about.

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"I think most people in Didcot will be supportive of it, we're a very diverse community, people are treated the same, that's who we are.

"It is a small minority who are actively opposed, that is their choice and they have the right to say what they want as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else.

"But I don't really see the problem."

An anonymous letter, written in response to some of the comments made about the mosque on Facebook has been liked hundreds of times since it was posted on Tuesday.

In the letter, the person writes that, as a Hindu, they have been racially abused and attacked because of their skin colour.

They wrote: "The thing is though that when you comment online, hating on Muslims, even if you’re only joking, you’re doing it on a platform where almost the whole world can hear you."