Not far from the Westfield shopping centre, the Woolpack Hotel and the Coroner’s Court, on the first level of a multi-storey building, is the Parramatta Mosque.
Hundreds of Muslims who work in the Parramatta city centre use their lunch breaks to pray at the mosque which opened its doors to worshippers in 2010.
Located in the heart of the city, on the first floor of a building that takes up more than 900 square metres of land, the site of the mosque is valued at around $2.2million and followers are still making donations to cover the cost of purchasing it.
The mosque is the first in the city and before it was built many local believers prayed in the Parramatta Town Hall, which had been rented on a hourly basis for the past 17 years, or at their homes.
Parramatta Muslim Association chairman Neil El-Kadomi said the local Muslim community was extremely multicultural – with Muslims from all different backgrounds including Fiji, Egypt and Palestine.
There are more than 16,000 Muslims living in the Parramatta local government area, according to the Bureau of Statistics Census data from 20120.
“Ninety-nine per cent of people who come to the mosque are from Parramatta and a lot of people work in the city centre and come during their lunch break,” Mr El-Kadomi said. “We get about one hundred people at Lunch and about 250 people on Fridays.”
Mr El-Kadomi said the association had told said worshippers at the Parramatta Mosque not to attend the protests, which turned violent, against a film depicting the prophet Muhammad in Sydney in September.
He said the association was angry at the depiction of the prophet as a philander and a paedophile but said violence was not acceptable form of protest.
“We did not tell people to go to the protests because we didn’t know who the organisers were,” he said “We are angry at what happened; we don’t support any of that behaviour. We have the right to protest but we should protest within the rules.
“We are very upset about it, we [at Parramatta Mosque] practise good behaviour so people accept our rights.”