Death Threats to Muslim for Inviting Women and Gays to Mosque
No wonder we never hear from more moderate Muslims who want to reform Islam. This is what happens:
Muslim academic gets death threats over women and gay-friendly mosque
Muslim behind Cape Town's Open Mosque project, where women will lead prayers and gays will be welcome, receives death threats
Muslim academic Taj HargeyPhoto: Eddie Mulholland/The Telegraph
By Stephanie Findlay in Johannesburg
7:00AM BST 16 Sep 2014
A Muslim academic is vowing to push ahead with the launch of his woman and gay-friendly mosque in South Africa, despite receiving death threats.
Taj Hargey, director of the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford, a group of "forward thinking" Muslims, said his Open Mosque will welcome all genders, religions and sexual orientations when it opens in Wynberg, a Cape Town suburb, on Friday.
"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 Mr Hargey, a native of Cape Town.
"Women will enter the same doors as men, women will take part in the service" said the 60-year-old. "This is the first time you'll see men and women praying together."
Mr Hargey says the Open Mosque, that has been in development for two years, is designed to counter growing Islamic radicalism in Africa.
"South Africans have become Arabised, they think they must wear the burka, must have face masks, that men must wear pyjama dresses," said Mr Hargey. "They think that is the only version of Islam."
With over 300 people expected to attend the first service, Mr Hargey, who has caused a similar uproar in Britain when he called on Muslims to ban the burka, says the response to the Open Mosque has ranged from ecstatic to apoplectic. "A 77-year-old grandmother just called me and said: 'All my life I've been waiting for this, for the first time I can go to a mosque and be warmly welcome,'" he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Hargey says he has received "a lot of death threats".
The Muslim Judicial Council, a non-profit religious advocacy group, said it was investigating the Open Mosque, telling to The Telegraph in an email it was "in the process of investigating the policy and objectives of the mosque".
Last week, the deputy president of the Muslim Judicial Council praised the Muslim community for their "vigilance".
"We see and feel the anxiousness in our community," said the council's deputy president Riad Fataar, to local radio station The Voice of the Cape.
Mr Fataar added that the Muslim Judicial Council would not consider the Open Mosque a proper place of prayer.
"We see in the newspaper clippings and the messages that this is a place of worship but we can't call it a mosque," he said. "But again we cannot make a complete statement until we have all the facts."