Political rivals have joined forces to condemn a British National Party-led campaign opposing a mosque in New Addington

Croydon Central MP Gavin Barwell, New Addington and Fieldway councillors and Greater London Authority member Steve O'Connell issued a joint statement ahead of a meeting, hosted by the far right party, which it said "sought to whip up fear and Islamophobia". 

The BNP launched a campaign, including a petition and street stalls, after learning the Shirley branch of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community sect was considering New Addington, along with several other areas of Croydon, as a potential location for its new base. 

The party claimed it had been "approached by concerned residents to organise a meeting" - scheduled to for 4pm Sunday at the Addington Community Association - in opposition to the mosque plans. 

It added: "We would like to stress this will not be a British National Party meeting.

"We have only taken charge of the anti-Mosque campaign because of our experience in this area."

But the statement in response, signed by Labour councillors Simon Hall, Carole Bonner, Oliver Lewis and Louisa Woodley, as well as Conservatives Mr Barwell and Mr O'Connell, accused the party of "an opportunistic hate-driven campaign".

They said: "There is a very strong community in New Addington. The BNP is seeking to divide this strong community and create tensions in a community where people from many different races and religions happily live together and support each other. 

"Sadly, this is not the first time they have tried to do this in New Addington. 

"The BNP has, throughout this campaign, sought to whip up fear and incite Islamophobia.  Apart from anything else, this is so wrong for the approximately one in twenty of residents of New Addington who are Muslim.  

"We believe that, as before, the people of New Addington will unite to oppose this."

In the response to the statement, the BNP accused the politicians of "conspiring against Croydoners". 

John Clarke, Croydon and Sutton branch organiser, said: "The people of Croydon are sick and tired of being bullied by the very politicians who have turned their backs on our British communities.

"The Muslim community already has a mosque and Islamic Centre in Croydon, yet Labour and Conservative politicians are bending over backwards to give them with another."

The Ahmadiyya movement subscribe largely to the same beliefs as most Muslims, but differ over the role of prophets.

Its members regularly organise voluntary work, including an annual New Year's Day clean-up, and charity fundraising.

Would you support a mosque in New Addington? Post a comment below or email chris.baynes@london.newsquest.co.uk