Building work hit by church 'fears' in Bahrain
Manama, March 27, 2014
Work on a residential building in Buhair has been halted because councillors suspect it could be turned into a church.
The Central Municipal Council has been flooded with complaints from residents who do not want construction to go ahead in their neighbourhood, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
It said a permit was issued by the Central Municipality to a retired reverend, who wanted to construct a residential and office building.
A sign that read "multi-purpose hall, offices and residential building" was originally set up at the construction site, but was removed after residents alerted the council.
Councillors fear the landlord has violated the terms of his building licence after acquiring an artist's impression of the project, which include pictures resembling a church interior.
A group of councillors and municipality officials will visit the site today to investigate the allegations.
"Offices buildings have multi-purpose halls and in some cases residential tenants, so we are still not sure if a church is actually being built," said municipality director-general Dr Mohammed Hassan during the council's weekly meeting.
"We have to wait to ensure that the building owner will abide by the terms stated in the permit.
"However, that doesn't mean we are not going to investigate the issue and take necessary action if the claims are true - on the basis that churches or religious clubs require special licensing."
Council chairman Abdulrazzak Al Hattab said they were not against construction of places of worship, but had to respect wishes of residents.
"Previously, churches were allowed only in Manama and in Awali, where the Christian community were in masses and that's acceptable," he said yesterday.
"But building them in areas in which neighbours don't want them is something no one can force.
Area councillor Ahmed Al Ansari spoke to labourers at the site, who informed him they were building a church.
"Artist impressions in the engineers' cabin show a multi-purpose hall that will be built according to church designs along with two smaller halls for children, which indicates that the building is not going to be used as originally intended," he told councillors during their weekly meeting yesterday.
"We are not against the church as a religious concept, but are against having it in the neighbourhood as residents feel it would rob them of their peace of mind as hundreds of worshippers would show up.
"Just a few days ago we heard there are plans to have a Hindu Temple in Buhair and if that goes ahead as well then the area will be a mess."
The building owner could not be reached for comment yesterday. - TradeArabia News Service