The Jewish Christian Muslim Association of Australia (JCMA) has today expressed its support of the continued use of The Alma Road Community House in East St Kilda by the St Kilda Islamic Society.

President of the JCMA, Rabbi Shamir Caplan said, “The Alma House has been used by numerous community groups for religious and other purposes for several years. It is used monthly by a Baptist community and regularly for Jewish festival and lifecycle celebrations. The St Kilda Islamic Society uses the facility for one hour each week on Fridays for peaceful religious services.”

JCMA Meeting to prepare press release with representatives of all three faith groups

The Port Phillip Council is in the process of updating its regulations which currently permit the assembly of only 10 people at the premises at one time. Given that the majority of groups that presently use this space exceed this limitation, the Council is seeking to update its regulations to bring them in line with general usage.

Rabbi Caplan remarked, “We reject entirely attempts by a small number of opponents to link this planning issue with the Islamic Society’s use of the building.” He continued, “The St Kilda Islamic Society has been a part of the Port Phillip Multifaith Network for the past two years, and is working with other faiths to establish open conversations and opportunities to learn more about each other.”

Reverend Dr Coralie Ling, chair of the JCMA Conference Committee and St Kilda resident, expressed, “we look forward to continuing and strengthening our relationship with the St Kilda Islamic Society. For generations, St Kilda has been a place where members of many faiths have lived harmoniously together, and I am delighted to have a Muslim prayer group among us.”

Many other religious groups and leaders have given their support. The B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission, Islamic Council of Victoria, Council of Christians and Jews (Vic) and religious leaders of many faiths all endorsed the right of the Muslim prayer group to use the space.

The Jewish Christian Muslim Association, founded in 2003, is committed to the promotion of understanding, mutual respect and peaceful relations among the members of our faith communities. We are unswerving in our support for the democratic values that underpin such relations in Australia and in other democratic countries. These values include the defence of individual human rights, freedom of religion and freedom of worship.

Melbourne, 3 March 2011

Contacts: JCMA: Rabbi Shamir Caplan 0418-440-336 , Rev Dr Coralie Ling 9534 022
Islamic Society of Victoria: Nazeem Hussain 0413 962 646
Anti-Defamation Commission: Anton Block 0418 320417