This article is one of those articles which drags on ~ but there is that underlying feeling there is more ~ and there was ~ the troubled centre had a history of child sexual abuse - as well as questionable links to a 'controversial Pakistani charity'. Whether they expand or not the only children ~ likely to be coming in and out of there are those in the black headscarves and boys dressed in 3/4 length pants and long tunics [as is common in other UK Islamic centers which cater to children].
THE trustees of an Islamic teaching centre in Polwarth have lodged plans to expand the centre.
The Idara Centre on Temple Park Crescent – commonly known as the Polwarth Mosque – has applied for planning permission to change the former Al-Hilal grocers at the junction of Yeaman Place into an extension of the existing centre to create a new computer lab and reference library.
Owners The Idara Taleem-Ul Qur'an Trust say their ultimate aim is to turn the spacious corner unit into an Islamic exhibition centre to "engage with the non-Muslim local community and help to remove barriers".
Chairman Amjed Hussain said: "We hope to enlarge our reference library and provide computer facilities for our younger generation, where they can spend most of their free time positively under supervision, thus resulting in good citizens who in turn will enhance the general community."
The centre has been steadily expanding since its foundation at 8 Temple Park Crescent in 1986, when it catered for around 20 students. Within ten years its roll had expanded to around 200 students and the trust purchased two neighbouring units to accommodate its growing numbers.
Mr Hussain hopes the expansion plans will give them scope for more classes and allow them to attract a younger generation.
He added: "There should most probably be some increase in the number of people attending the centre.
"As soon as we can provide better facilities the better chance we have at attracting all generations to attend, including youngsters who are our main targets. The centre believes the largest investment of our time, effort and wealth must be in educating for our future and our children.
"We recently attended a meeting with justice secretary Kenny MacAskill where the need for more learning opportunities for youth was highlighted.
"Discussion also included a special project for rehabilitation and moral development of teenagers that have gone off track at some point."
Idara was rocked in 2008 by the conviction of former teacher Mahmood Qadri, 63, who was found guilty of sexually abusing two young girls at the centre ten years previously.
Since then they have installed CCTV and employed more female teachers, and Mr Hussein said: "We understand the events that occurred in 1998 were horrific and very unfortunate but we hope that with our new measures in place and with our fresh new approach towards educating the centre attendees, we hope that this can be put behind us.
"Parents' minds can also be put at ease knowing that we have both male and female tutors teaching boys and girls and we also have CCTV in operation."
The trustees also successfully contested a coup attempt in 1999 by a faction who objected to their support of a controversial Pakistani charity and the alleged mistreatment of Imams at the centre – claims which were later rejected in court by Judge Lord Nimmo Smith.