Pro gay mosque in South Africa closed down

South Africa’s first gay-friendly mosque, which also allows women to lead prayers, has been closed indefinitely, a local official has told the BBC.

A City of Cape Town councillor says the newly-established Open Mosque had violated municipal by-laws by not having any parking spaces.

The mosque officially opened its doors on Friday despite criticism from members of the local Muslim community.

Founder Taj Hargey said the mosque would help counter radicalism.

“We are opening the mosque for open-minded people, not closed-minded people,” he said ahead of the launch.

Taj Hargey denies going against Muslim teaching

City councillor Ganief Hendricks denied that the closure was part of a witch-hunt.

“This is an emotive issue – some councillors who are Muslim would want to defend the issue more vigorously than those that aren’t but the bottom line is we have to make sure that the rules are followed,” he told the BBC.

He said Mr Hargey had not applied to change the use of the building from a warehouse to a mosque.

“There are issues of health and safety to consider before [a mosque] is set up,” Mr Hendricks said

Women will be allowed to preach and pray alongside men

A local by-law stipulates that a place of worship should have one parking bay per 10 worshippers on the premises but Mr Hendricks said there were not any.

The process of applying for the necessary paperwork could take up to six months, he said.

Mr Hargey told the BBC that he believed everything was in order.

Women are allowed to pray alongside men, as well as lead prayers, at the mosque.

Some local Muslim condemned him as a “heretic” but Mr Hargey said he was following true Islam.