Angry Muslims question disparity in land premium that threatens New Territories worship centre Plans to build a $100 million mosque and Islamic centre could be scuppered by government demands that Hong Kong's Muslims stump up $10 million in land premium, according to a senior community leader. The city's Muslims are angry because the land premium for the construction of the New Territories' first mosque, in Sheung Shui, is much higher than the normal nominal fee of $1,000. Mohamed Alli Din, chairman of the United Muslim Association of Hong Kong, says the 2,046-square-metre site where the mosque and centre are to be built is smaller than the 4,240 square metres granted to rural body the Heung Yee Kuk, which paid just $1,000 to build its new headquarters in November last year. The mosque's cash-strapped fund-raisers have been asked to pay almost $10 million to lease the land, putting the 15-year-old project in jeopardy. Officials have threatened to take back the land and retain a $1 million deposit unless the balance is settled by February 15. Mr Din stopped short of accusing the government of racial discrimination, but said: 'Here we have a Chinese charity that pays just $1,000 to use their land grant, while we are a non-Chinese organisation and we have to pay $10 million. 'The government is pressing us very hard to pay the land premium and it seems very unfair.' It was unfair because the Islamic community had contributed to the prosperity of Hong Kong and Muslim soldiers defended and died for the former British colony in previous wars, he said. Since the site was granted last April, the mosque builders have been allowed to extend the deadline to pay the $10 million fee three times. But they have been warned the latest deadline will be their last. The long-awaited mosque and Islamic centre is to include a care and attention home for the elderly with 200 beds, a medical clinic, a Muslim canteen and a women's training centre. It is needed, the organisers say, because Hong Kong's growing Muslim population - believed to be about 250,000 - needs more room to pray, with only five mosques in the city. Around 9,000 Muslims are believed to live in the New Territories. The project is expected to cost up to $100 million, but organisers have had difficulty raising money because of fears among potential donors that they might be financing terrorists. A Lands Department spokesman said the proposed Islamic centre included lodging for visitors, which did not qualify for government concessions, so part of the land premium was calculated on the prevailing market value. But government records obtained by the Sunday Morning Post show a monastery was awarded a site in 2005 for just $1,000 to build a home for the elderly, while in 2001 Chinese University paid just $1,000 for land to build a student hostel. Of the 19 land grants executed in 2005, only three were in excess of $1,000, including $2.32 billion for the MTR Corp for a site to build the proposed Tseung Kwan O South station, and $4.4 million for the Hong Kong & China Gas Company for a gas pigging station. The Muslim association filed a complaint with the Legislative Council's home affairs panel in 1998 alleging racial discrimination by the government against the organisation in its bid to build the mosque. Officials rejected a proposed site in Fanling in 1993 because it was located on a hilltop and a mosque would probably cause 'visual intrusion' and 'fung shui concerns' among the people living there, organisers were told. Another site in Fanling was given the thumbs down in 1997 because the lot was being earmarked for a secondary school. The site is still believed to be occupied by a car park.