Muslim group sparks outrage after claiming 'English people NOT Muslims' carried out work converting historic church into Mosque

​St John's Church, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent
St John's Church, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent
WikiCommons
George Bunn

By George Bunn


Published: 09/07/2024

- 19:01

Updated: 10/07/2024

- 08:00

The former St John's Church, in Stoke-on-Trent is being converted

The owners of a church being converted into a mosque have been slammed after saying 'English people not Muslims' carried out essential work.

St John's Church, in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent is being converted into a mosque and education centre.


The church dates back to 1788 before it closed in the 1980s and up until 2020 was used as an antiques centre and tearoom. It was last year snapped up by The Darul Falah Centre for £140,000.

However, the project was hit with controversy after a social media video appeared to show stacks of gravestones, some of them damaged, as external works were being carried out at the site. Stoke-on-Trent Council has confirmed to GB News it has seen no evidence of disturbed graves.

\u200bSt John's Church, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent

St John's Church, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent

WikiCommons

In a social media post, St John's Church stated: "We need to address and clarify some serious allegations regarding the recent clean-up efforts at St John's Church. There have been claims that individuals of the Muslim faith deliberately damaged graves and headstones, but this is completely untrue.

"Due to the overgrown state and appearance of the site, we hired a contractor to tidy the area around the perimeter of the church and remove fly-tipped rubbish. During these clean-up efforts, several headstones were found lying flat on the ground. While some were intact, a few were discovered to be broken or damaged.

"The contractor was instructed to collect all headstones, including any broken pieces, and place them in storage at the rear of the church. Intact headstones have been laid on timber strips to prevent further damage.

"The few broken headstones were already broken and were either left on the site when the 130 graves were moved as part of the shopping centre development, or they were damaged during the interim period before the new owners purchased the building. The individuals who physically lifted and moved these headstones were English contractors, not Muslims."

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\u200bSt John's Church has been dilapidated for years

St John's Church has been dilapidated for years

WikICommons

Alka Cuthbert from Don't Divide Us said: "It speaks to a worrying trend of communalism of religious sectarianism at a time when it is really important to strengthen the sense of national belonging and national solidarity.

"In that sense, it's not a major thing, you could say it's a slip of the tongue but I think the other things we've seen recently where it's clear people are putting themselves out there for public office and status on the grounds of representing their own communal group rather than a wider constituency and I think that's problematic."

A spokesperson from St John's Church told GB News: "The original statement intended to clarify that our organisation did not engage in this activity. However, to ensure absolute accuracy, we have now omitted any reference to the contractors' religious affiliations.

"This is because we did not inquire about their religion, and therefore cannot confirm this information. Additionally, we wish to avoid any further debate regarding the contractors' religious affiliations. Our primary concern is to confirm that our organisation was not responsible for this activity."

\u200bSt John's Church, Hanley

St John's Church, Hanley

Google Maps

A spokesperson for Stoke-on-Trent City Council told GB News: "Officers visited St John’s Church, in Hanley, recently and found no evidence of further works being carried out or any public health or safety concerns.

"St John’s Church ceased operation in 1985, having had uses other than as a place of worship since.

"Although it is probable that graves are present within the area around the church, there is no evidence to indicate that any have been disturbed. If any illegal activity is identified, we will ensure that appropriate action is taken."

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