South Africa: Pro-gay ‘open mosque’ burnt by arsonists

PinkNews logo on a pink background surrounded by illustrated line drawings of a rainbow, pride flag, unicorn and more.

A Cape Town mosque which preached acceptance of gay people has been damaged in an arson attack.

The controversial Open Mosque opened its doors last month, causing outrage among hard-line Islamists, as it allows women to lead prayers, does not segregate based on gender, and accepts gay people.

However, the mosque, whose founder Taj Hargey said he hoped to counter radicalism by being more inclusive, was damaged in an arson attack last night.

Dr Hargey told AFP that the attack – which caused substantial damage to the building – was caught on CCTV on the eve of the Muslim holy festival of Eid.

He said: “This a deliberate arson attack. They used petrol and oil.”

No one was hurt in the attack, as the building was empty overnight.

Police spokesperson Andre Traut said officers “are investigating the circumstances surrounding the fire”.

Dr Hargey added: “Instead of preparing for the holy day these people were preparing to destroy the house of God … it’s very sad, disrespectful.

“They cannot shut us down, they can try whatever they want. They have tried verbal intimidation, threats and now arson, this should be the last.

“Our opponents should know that they don’t have a copyright on Islam.”

The mosque, which is the first in South Africa to accept gay worshippers, was previously ordered to close over a parking violation.