South Africa’s first gay-friendly mosque, called the “Open Mosque” is sparking quite a bit of controversy.
The mosque has been described as extremely liberal, allowing women to lead prayers, and showing tolerance for gay individuals.
Authorities in Cape Town, where the mosque is located, are planning on shutting it down, BBC reports.
Taj Hargey, the founder of the mosque, alleges that city council is trying to close the mosque by using “ridiculous” by-laws as an excuse.
” I will not be threatened by them or anyone else. 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,” he said.
However, city councilor, Ganief Hendrickshas stated that plans to shut down the mosque have nothing to do with its liberal stance. He stated that Hargey had converted the building from a warehouse to a mosque, without considering the health and safety implications. He also said that the building violated violated municipal by-laws by not having any parking spaces.
However, Hargey insists that the city council wants to close down the mosque due to its desire to maintain a “theological monopoly.”
“This mosque is based on the original mosque in Medina with one door where men and women come together to pray.
“I want my mother, wife, daughter to pray alongside me. Not be second class citizens. They pray together at Haj, why can’t they pray together in the mosques of the world?”
“This is not a gay mosque. But I will not turn anyone away based on race or sexual orientation, he said