Court To End Lease For Oxford Center of Islamic Studies, Charles Patron

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Jan 30, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/30/98
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A Trust of which the Prince of Wales is patron is being taken to the High Court

over a center combining Islamic and Gothic styles that Muslims plan to build in
the heart of Oxford. A " dreaming spire " to be built is part of the problem
Merton
College, which owns the 1.6 acre site, has dismissed the plan as a "mish-mash
of Eastern and Western influences which cannot preserve or enhance the special
character of Oxford". It has asked the High Court to end a lease agreement
entered into in 1994 with the Oxford Center for Islamic Studies, of which the
Prince of
Wales is patron, on the basis that it was not properly consulted by the
center's trustees. The £20 million building earmarked for a sensitive site
between Magdalen College and St Cross Church is being financed by King Fahd of
Saudi Arabia and has the backing of the Prince of Wales. The center, for about
100 fellows and students, would include a 75ft dome and a 108ft tower - 36ft
lower than Magdalen. It was designed by Abdel Wahed al-Wakil, who is considered
to be the leading Muslim
architect in Britain. A spokesman for Merton College, which was appalled when
it first saw the design, said: "The matter is now being pursued through the
courts. We are moving towards a hearing later this year." The scheme has caused
bitter divisions within the university. Magdalen

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