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A local council has banned the construction of a synagogue in Bondi, Australia. It was alleged that the place of worship could be a terrorist target. Jewish religious leaders have responded to the shock move, stating that the council has caved in to Islamic extremism and created a dangerous precedent.

The decision, which has left the longstanding resident Jewish population shocked, was upheld in court this week in light of the recent alleged airline terror threat.

The Land and Environment Court supported the decision by Waverly Council to prohibit the construction of the synagogue in Wellington St, Bondi, stating it was too much of a security risk for users and residents.

Jewish authorities are concerned with the implications of such a move, suggesting they cannot freely practice their religion because they are a target of Islamist extremists. The head of the local Jewish community said that the council and the court had stifled the freedom of religion and given in to the terrorists. “Its implications are enormous. It basically implies that no Jewish organisation should be allowed to exist in residential areas” Rabbi Yehoram Ulman told news.com.au.

The council pincered all potential negotiation in the design of the synagogue: stating that the security measures put forward in the proposed design were evidence in and of themselves that the site was too much of a security risk. To add insult to injury, the council also said that if the design was then changed to boost security, this would then be unacceptable because the construction would be too unsightly.

The courts made their decision on the following facts:

  • Western countries face a security threat, currently primarily from ISIS;
  • The threat level in Australia is “probable”;
  • Jewish communities across the world are no stranger to the threat of violence and as such will generally take security measures into account when planning, constructing or renovating buildings;
  • The CITED design considers “potential possible threats” that are relevant to Australia; and
  • The design measures focus on the person inside the buildings only.

Commissioner Graham Brown stated that the projects risk assessment was inadequate and upheld the council’s decision. A Waverley Council spokesperson noted the court had support the council’s position, which was supported by several residents’ concerns.


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