The Malta Environment and Planning Authority shall be enforcing a stop notice on premises in Sliema used abusively by the Islamic community, the Ombudsman said in a statement.

The premises, in a residential block, are used as a place of worship and gathering without the necessary permits.

The Ombudsman had decided towards the end of last year that Mepa’s stop notice should be enforced since the authority was duty bound to restore the rule of law.

Residents had complained to the Ombudsman that Mepa had failed to follow a stop and enforcement notice it had issued in 2007, as a result of which they were suffering inconveniences.

They argued that the premises were being used for public worship by the Muslim community but the person responsible for the apartment said that the premises was a residence and its tenants had the right to invite the Muslim community over for prayers.

The ombudsman had concluded that as the premises were being used for a different purpose than permitted without the necessary permits, Mepa was duty bound to restore the rule of law.

However, it was wise and prudent that efforts were made to find an amicable solution.

The Ombudsman also said that the Islamic community abusively using the premises should show that it truly accepted to observe the laws and regulations and accept the invitation of the authorities to identify an adequate alternative where its members could practise their belief in full respect of the rights of others.

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