Camden: Holy war that's split community

issam obeid

Trying to ease community tensions ... Quranic Society vice-president, Issam Obeid.,22049,22771419-5007132,00.html

November 17, 2007 12:00am

AS one of the last rural bastions in Sydney, Camden prides itself on keeping that laid-back twang of a true country town.

But the once-sleepy hamlet in Sydney's southwest has become the scene of a battle over a proposed Islamic school for up to 1200 students on 15ha wedged between market gardens and pastures.

It has roused a community to action on a scale not seen since a Muslim prayer hall was proposed in The Hills district in 2002 ...

"We will be teaching Australian values first because we are all Australians. We're not bringing anything bad from overseas and we're not there to teach minority group people," Mr Obeid said.

"Hopefully one day when people start to get to know us they will realise we are not like what they think."

Local Rebecca Napier said Camden had a real community concern that the Islamic school wouldn't fit in with because Muslim's "refused to integrate".

"We lit up the Christmas tree the other night and that is something they wouldn't be into because they're anti-Christian," Ms Napier said.

"It would become more like Lakemba and less like the country town that we love."