South Africa’s first gay-friendly mosque could be shut down barely a week after it opened its doors to the public, a Cape Town local official has announced, saying that the Open Mosque had violated municipal by-laws by not having any parking spaces.
The mosque has come under heavy criticism from other Muslim believers who feel allowing gays into a place of worship was not ‘pure’. The mosque, which officially opened its doors last Friday, also allows women to lead prayers something that is uncommon in mosques across Africa.
“We have freedom of religion and expression in this country. No-one has the right to tell anyone what to believe in. This is a gender equal mosque, autonomous and independent and will remain so,” Open Mosque Founder Taj Hargey told BBC, adding that the council decision to shut the mosque was part of targeting his new facility.
“The City Council is trying to close the mosque using ridiculous bylaws and I will not be threatened by them or anyone else,” he said.
Muslims make up some 1.5 percent of South Africa’s 49 million-strong population, according to the CIA fact book.
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