UK Muslim forced to remove the Shahada from his home
By: Richard Alleyne
Mahmood Ali, 54, fell out with residents and planners over the Arabic slogan which reads: “There is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his messenger”.
He claims it is just a proclamation of his faith and he should be allowed to write whatever he wants in a free country.
But the council said it contravenes planning laws which are designed to stop people placing advertising hoardings on their homes.
The green sign, which is nearly 7ft wide and 2ft high, is across a first floor archway on his large detached house in a residential street.
It has divided neighbours and he will face a court hearing to decide whether the Islamic slogan is advertising just like a McDonalds or Marks and Spencer banner.
Mr Ali said: “The message is simply there to bless the house.
“The symbols are not an advertisement in any sense of the word’s use in daily life.
“I chose the sign’s green colour to reflect the ambience of the property’s character and its surroundings.”
Mr Ali had the sign painted onto the side of his large eight-bedroom semi-detached home in Newport, South Wales.
But the city’s council later decided he did not have the right planning permission to display the message across the home’s stone archway.
The sign, which is around two metres wide and 60cm high, includes the declaration of the Islamic faith – called the Islamic creed.
Mr Ali, a business consultant, has also applied for permission to illuminate the sign in low voltage lighting.
A family member said: “It’s our home and we should be free to do whatever we want.
“We’re supposed to have freedom of speech in this country and be allowed to express our faith however we please.
“We don’t intend to cause any kind of offence but I don’t see how it is any different to having a St George’s flag hanging outside your home.”
Newport Council have argued that the sign is an obtrusive “advertisement” according to planning regulations.
Under these guidelines an advertisement includes any word, letter, model, sign, placard, board or notice used for advertising, making an announcement or direction.
A council statement read: “The property is domestic property and is not a mosque where such signs might be expected.”
“The sign consists of letters and words that announce religious faith and so can be considered to be an advertisement and express planning consent is required.
“The advertisement is prominently sited upon the host building and is also prominent – Its size and position on the building make it obtrusive.”
The sign divided the opinion amongst Mr Ali’s neighbours on the quiet suburban road.
Beryl Morgan, 78, who lives opposite, said: “Maybe it’s OK for a mosque but I don’t think it’s a suitable for a house.
“It’s not the sort of thing you should be allowed to have on the side of your property.
“It’s an eyesore, I don’t want to have to look out of my front window and see that every morning.
But Joel Davies, 25, said: “I don’t mind it at all. I think he should be free to express his religious preference.
“The sign is very tastefully done, the green lettering looks good against the stonework.
“I think it adds a bit of colour to the street and I’m not sure what the problem is.”