BOXER Anthony Mundine and league star Hazem El Masri have been fined for illegally beginning work to convert a Christian church into a mosque.
The pair were fined $600 and ordered to stop illegal work on the proposed Islamic prayer hall at Roselands, in Sydney's south, after sections of the building were demolished without council approval.
Nearby residents are now forming an association to formally oppose the place of worship, which will operate seven days a week and feature Koranic tutorials and Arabic classes.
Gallery: See the site of the proposed mosque
Mundine already has been caught up in a planning row after a consortium linked to the boxer purchased a Central Coast resort for $6 million, causing residents to threaten legal action against its zoning if it was turned into an Islamic prayer facility and retreat .
In the latest matter, the Anthony Mundine and Hazem El Masri Association bought the old Chinese Christian Assembly church in Ludgate St, Roselands, for $875,000 last year.
Canterbury Council issued the fine and stop work order after the demolition of the roof and internal walls.
The site remains idle, surrounded by wire fencing, while the council considers a late development application lodged by architect Rod Zoabi.
While Mundine or El Masri could not be contacted yesterday, Mr Zoabi said there already was approval for a place of public worship and the application was only for structural repairs.
"The owners were unaware the removal and replacement of the roof structure would be deemed illegal", the application before council stated.
"It is our best intention, as well as the owners', to ensure a high level of design and satisfaction by all parties, including neighbours, council and the general public."
Council general manager Jim Montague said the retrospective application would be considered next year.
But Ludgate St residents yesterday said they would oppose the application - not because it was Islamic but because of the increased days of worship, from the Christian Assembly's once a week to seven days a week and up to three sessions a day.
The Christian church was sold after 20 years of services.