South Africa: Death threats as ‘gay mosque’ opens

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This Friday South Africa will controversially open the doors of its first gay-friendly, gender-equal and interracial ‘open mosque’.

Despite death threats and severe backlash on social media calling it a “gay temple”, plans on behalf of Dr Taj Hargey to open an “all welcome” mosque will go ahead. This will be the first time openly LGBTI people will be able to attend services in a mosque in South Africa.

Male and female Muslims will worship together, interfaith marriages will be endorsed and Sunni and Shias will be allowed to worship at the same service.

Cape Town born Dr Hargey is an Imam and director of Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford. He returned to his hometown in hope of generating a “religious revolution”. Hargey said,

“You go to churches and often see the sign ‘All welcome’. This is the single mosque in the whole country that sadly has the words ‘All welcome’ underneath it.”

“I decided that being Cape Town-born I had to do something. We had a political evolution in this country 20 years ago and what we need now is a religious revolution, especially in the Muslim community.”

“You enter the mosque, do I ask you the question who did you sleep with last night? No. It’s not my business who you slept with,” said Hargey.

Accused of establishing a “gay mosque” because of it being situated on the same road as LGBTI Muslim Group Inner Circle, Hargey responded by saying,

“I do not endorse homosexual living, but I do not condemn them as people.”

“We will … welcome gay people and discuss topical subjects like sexuality, politics and others.”

Although Hargay is strongly in favour of embracing the gay community into Islam, he is not gay himself and says he is prepared to take legal action over anybody who accuses him as a ‘homosexual’ for opening the mosque.

As a controversial move forward but away from traditional Islamic practices, the open mosque has received an anxious response on behalf of the Muslim community. South Africa’s Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) have initiated the launch of an investigation to ensure it parallels with Islamic teachings.

MJC’s deputy president Riad Fataar claimed the Mosque has caused “anxiousness” amongst a community trying to “protect the integrity and purity of our deen (faith)”. Fataar added,

“Anything that goes against our deen and which rejects the primary sources such the Qur’an and Hadeeth will be condemned by the MJC. We want to make sure that our deen is protected and that the Muslim community is not fooled.” Dr Hargey hit back saying:

“We wanted a mosque that reflects 21st century South Africans not some seventh century utopia that never existed.”

In November 2012 a mosque aimed specifically at gay people opened in Paris.