A Muslim sect hoping to open a mosque in the south of Croydon has refused to be deterred by far right campaigners.
Ahmadiyya Muslim Community's wants a second base in the borough and has said it will not rule out New Addington as a potential location, despite vocal opposition from the British National Party.
The group, which wants to make it easier for members to worship, has also considered Shirley and South Croydon and held talks with Croydon Council earlier this year about using a house in Addington, although that proposal was thwarted by planning regulations.
Labour and Conservative politicians were last week united in condemnation of the BNP, which they said "sought to whip up fear and incite Islamophobia" by holding a meeting at Addington Community Association in opposition to the mosque.
Naseem Butt, regional president for the Ahmadiyya in south London, said opponents of the mosque were entitled to their opinion but had misjudged his community.
He said: "They have got every right to say whatever they like; everyone has that right. But I'm sure they misunderstand us.
"They believe every Muslim is the same and that is not right. We are peace-loving people. This is our land, we are very proud to be British Muslims and we are ready to do whatever we can for our country.
He added: "If there is the opportunity to have a place then that would be very good, but if there is not then it does not really matter. We are not the kind of people who try to force something upon people.
"It does not have to mean Addington - there is Addington, Shirley, Selsdon. If there is a reasonable place, then we don't mind."
Mr Butt said the proposed mosque would serve the wider community and be available for hire by non-Muslim groups.
He added: "We would be more than happy to have that place and that place would be a beacon of peace and light for everyone, not only for our community."
Croydon Central MP Gavin Barwell, Labour's New Addington and Fieldway councillors and Greater London Authority member Steve O'Connell issued a joint statement last week criticising the BNP - who also organised a petition and street stalls to campaign against the mosque - accusing them of an "an opportunistic hate-driven campaign".
They said: "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."
John Clarke, the BNP's 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.
The group's existing mosque in the borough is in St Jame's Road, West Croydon. It wants to open a second base to avoid members having to travel long distances.
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