Sonny Bill Williams has given an sneak peek inside the massive work underway on the controversial new mosque personally backed by the All Black and NRL star in Sydney’s south.
The project has been at the centre of a long-running row with neighbours in the quiet suburban street who bitterly opposed the traffic and disruption it will bring.
In April, Daily Mail Australia revealed video footage of Williams, 37, apparently telling one Asian resident to ‘go to China’ in a clash with locals in the middle of the road.
The bust-up followed claims mysterious men had thrown firecrackers at the homes of locals opposing the mosque and ripped down signs protesting against the plans.
But work is now underway which will transform a former nursing home into the $5million Hurstville Masjid at the 1,988sqm site in Carlton.
A neighbouring home and an outer building have both now been demolished to make way for the new car parks needed to meet demand.
Workmen have also ripped off the roof in preparation for the interior renovation which will create male and female prayer rooms and a college onsite.
Sonny Bill Williams (pictured with Sheikh Kamal Taleb) has given an sneak peek inside the massive work underway on the controversial new mosque in Sydney’s south
A video obtained by Daily Mail Australia showed Sonny Bill Williams (pictured) in a fiery confrontation with a Chinese-Australia resident over the mosque
‘God willing, we’ll be praying 365 days a year, five times a day’
Sonny Bill Williams lives in the area with his South African-born former model wife Alana, 29, and their three young children, Imaan, 6, Aisha, 4, and Zaid, 3.
The Kiwi converted to Islam in 2009 while playing in France, and his wife, mother and brother have also since converted too.
Williams joined with Anthony Mundine and former footballer Hazem El Masri to campaign for the Carlton mosque.
‘The Muslim community has been here in the Carlton area since 1950s and has never had a mosque,’ he said.
Williams welcomed its approval – three years after the application was first lodged – in a video for the mosque’s website.
‘As a proud Muslim in this area, this is something that I’ve been looking forward to for a very long time,’ he said.
‘It’s been a roller coaster ride to get this Masjid up and running, maybe four or five years.
‘Either way you look at it, it’s been a beautiful process.’
Williams added on social media: ‘God willing we’ll be praying 365 DAYS, 5 TIMES A DAY at our new Masjid very soon.
‘May the most high eradicate racism from our society.’
The project has been given star power backing with support from Williams, boxer Anthony Mundine and Canterbury Bulldogs legend Hazem El Masri.
Sheikh Dr Kamal Taleb gave Williams a tour of the building site in a video tweeted by Williams on Friday.
The former All Blacks introduced the video saying: ‘My beautiful brothers and sisters, we are here in front of the new Hurstville Masjid.’
He forced open the doors of the building site before the pair went inside – without any protective equipment like helmets – and he asked Sheikh Taleb for an update.
‘A lot of progress and work has been done on the masjid,’ he told Williams. ‘It’s been stripped. A lot of walls have come down. The car park is being prepared.
‘As you can see the work here is moving really fast. The brothers have knocked down the ceilings. They’ve knocked down a lot of the walls.
‘This is where the masjid is going to be – this whole area here – so there’s a lot of walls to be knocked down.’
Sheikh Taleb said he hoped work would be completed in time for the next Ramadan in March 2024.
On the shell of the second floor, the sheikh said the women’s prayer room would be located there, alongside the college.
‘It’s about seven, eight rooms of the college in here,’ he said before moving outside to the remains of the demolished neighbouring house.
‘We’re going to have a second car park for the members and the constituents that are going to be praying in the mosque,’ he said.’
‘So there’s plenty of space for a lot of brothers to pray in this mosque.’
The video comes as neighbours of the mosque now under construction told Daily Mail Australia they have suffered a campaign of intimidation since they began fighting the plans in 2019.
Sonny Bill Williams (right) forced open the doors of the building site before the pair went inside – without any protective equipment like helmets – and Sheikh Kamal Taleb (left) gave an update
Neighbours said they were on the verge of a nervous breakdown when work began on the controversial new mosque (pictured)
Transcript of the video flashpoint with NRL star Sonny Bill Williams
RESIDENT: Why you being angry at me? What’s the problem?
SONNY BILL WILLIAMS: Go to China…
RESIDENT: Did we do anything wrong? Do we do anything wrong? Mate – talk to me…don’t just run…
SBW: [muffled] …signs for the school – don’t they cause noise too?
RESIDENT: Wait, what is it? I can’t…
SBW: Should we shut down the whole school?
RESIDENT: I can’t hear you mate…
SBW: I said we should just shut down the school because noise.
RESIDENT: You can talk to them. It’s fine. You can put up your own sign. What happened?
RESIDENT: Yeah, you can put up your own sign to shut up the school I don’t mind.
SBW: [muffled] Put it on your bill…
RESIDENT: I don’t mind, I don’t mind. I don’t think it’s a problem to be honest.
SBW: [Apparent Islamic farewell, possibly a version of ma’a salama]
A video obtained by Daily Mail Australia showed Williams in a fiery confrontation with a Chinese-Australian resident apparently telling him to ‘go to China’ as they yell at each other.
The neighbour started filming the footy star-turned-commentator as Williams stalked the street outside their homes in front of the site of the new mosque.
Williams’ then suggests the nearby school should be shut down over noise, as the local asks him to come back to discuss the plans.
The man who filmed the video has since left the street, but another resident says she is close to a nervous breakdown after firecrackers were thrown into her yard and verbal abuse from strangers driving through the street.
Others say they are also on the verge of moving out of the area – but claim the value of their properties has fallen because of the ongoing controversy over the noise and potential traffic from the mosque.
‘My grandparents first bought our home – we have lived here for four generations,’ Stella Magro, 34, who lives opposite the new mosque, told Daily Mail Australia.
‘But we want to move now. The noise at the site started without warning at 7am and once it’s up and running there will be traffic coming in and out at all hours.
‘Their headlights will be blazing right into my mother’s bedroom – it will be unbearable.
‘We want to leave but real estate agents say we won’t get anything like what our home was once worth.’
Daily Mail Australia is not suggesting Williams is involved in any of this harassment.
Some residents have already sold up and another admitted: ‘We’re ready to pack up too. We’re either going to have a nervous breakdown or someone’s going to hurt us.
‘Mentally, I can’t take it any more.’
She added: ‘There are over 100 consent orders which the applicant has to adhere to which council request residents to monitor and report any breaches.
‘This is causing additional stress and impacts to our health.
‘We are not racist – and have nothing against Sonny Bill Williams – but we are concerned about the impact on our daily lives.
‘We have bad health and will need to sell our properties but we have lost value to our properties.
‘Who will compensate the residents?’
Williams and Mundine personally donated $200,000 to the mosque, and the footballer threw his fame behind the development last year, even branding locals who opposed the construction as ‘racist’.
Former Canterbury Bulldogs and All Blacks hero Sonny Bill Williams lives in the Carlton area with his South African-born former model wife Alana, 29, and their three young children, Imaan, 6, Aisha, 4, and Zaid, 3 (pictured)
Fed up neighbours have unleashed upon a controversial new mosque heavily backed by ex-footy star Sonny Bill Williams (pictured at the site)
He posted a photograph on Instagram of him sitting among protest signs against the mosque with the caption: ‘Racism is well and truly alive in Botany St, Carlton, Sydney.’
Neighbours insist any place of worship, either a church, mosque or temple, would bring too much traffic for the quiet residential area, which is next to a school.
They lined their street with placards protesting against the mosque, but mystery men were caught on CCTV ripping down the signs in the dead of night.
Residents claim the conflict stepped up when one home was targeted in drive-by firecracker attacks, with two within a matter of five days.
‘We thought a bomb had gone off,’ said a neighbour, one of several multicultural locals who spoke to Daily Mail Australia, but asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals.
‘It was awful. We didn’t know if it was gunfire or what. It shook our house and we are quite far from where they threw it.’
CCTV video footage of the incidents shows a car pull up outside one home before a sudden bright flash as the firework explodes in a shower of flames.
In the second video, a car repeats a similar attack before moments later a second vehicle pulls up and the driver jumps out to collect the remains before driving off.
‘The second vehicle was picking up the ashes of the firecracker to take away the evidence,’ said the neighbour.
There are no traditional domes or prayer towers in the plans for the new Hurstville mosque (pictured an artist’s impression of the redeveloped building)
The earlier plan rejected by the council had fewer parking spaces and two separate car parks
Parking at the rear has now been re-arranged to create four more parking spaces by demolishing the external annex at its rear
Every nearby home has now installed CCTV to watch over the road after the series of disturbing incidents, including strangers in cars abusing them.
Ms Magro said the incidents had left her mother afraid to leave the house but police had told them they were unable to act.
‘Because they didn’t physically abuse her or set foot on our property, there’s nothing the police can do,’ she said.
‘So intimidation and scaring my mother to that level means nothing. It’s going to take somebody to come on our property and physically hurt my mother…’
Contractors working at the mosque site in April denied any link to the incidents and blamed it on ‘randoms’ who had nothing to do with the mosque.
The contractor – who declined to give his name – slammed the locals as ‘racist liars’.
Why some locals oppose Hurstville Masjid in Carlton
The proposal will result in loss of privacy for surrounding residential dwellings;
The acoustic impacts of the proposal will disturb neighbours;
The proposal will increase activity in the residential neighbourhood;
The proposal is an overdevelopment of the site;
The development is inconsistent with a low density residential character and this is reflected in the prohibition of Places of Public Worship in the R2 zone under the new Local Environmental Plan;
The site is unsuitable for the development;
The development does not provide the required number of car parking spaces onsite;
Cars associated with the use of the development will be parked on surrounding streets;
There will be vehicles leaving the site after 10pm;
There will be queues of cars during special events and Ramadan, blocking access to Ethel Lane;
The visitor numbers are an underestimation of the capacity of the development;
The Plan of Management cannot be enforced;
Clarification is needed regarding the proposed crowd control measures associated with the development;
The residents should not be required to report breaches of the conditions of consent to the Council;
The amended proposal does not ameliorate the concerns of the objectors;
The development is likely to be intensified in the future;
The Council had ignored the wishes of the local residents;
The value of properties proximate to the development will decrease;
The increased vehicular traffic around the development will pose a safety risk to school children;
The new Local Environmental Plan should be considered as the development is prohibited under the new plan;
The trial period will occur after the development has been constructed;
The fence along Xenia Avenue must be an acoustic fence;
The planned prayer session clash with sports afternoons and school dismissal;
The current configuration of the driveway only allows for a single car to enter or exit;
There is no room for a small rigid vehicle to turn around; and
Car parking spaces should be 2.6m wide instead of 2.5m wide.