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.