Jean-Jacques Cornish

Gay-friendly mosque might have to close

Officials in the opposition-controlled city of Cape Town say they may be forced to close South Africa’s first gay-friendly mosque, which also allows Christian worshippers and women to lead prayers.

The founder of the place of worship says the authorities are acting harshly because they’re under pressure from conventional Muslim clergy.


The new mosque came under pressure immediately after it opened in Cape Town last Friday.

The city council says it does not have enough parking space and the founder Taj Hargey hasn’t submitted the necessary paperwork to convert the building from a warehouse to a place of worship.

Officials say it could be closed unless it complies with municipal laws.

Hargey says there’s been a vindictive complaint by Muslim members of the city council, alleging that the mosque is supposedly violating by-laws.

City councillor Ganief Hendricks says the premises are just not suitable for a mosque.

Worshippers are in danger of breathing fumes from the spray-painting in two workshops next door

There’s no parking space at the premises so it’s highly unlikely the council will approve the change of use.

He recommends another place should be found for the mosque.

Hargey counters that the mosque is holding regular prayers.

It opened peacefully despite threats of violence and welcomes gay people, Christians, and treats women equally to men.


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Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.