Protests outside SA’s first ‘open mosque’
Cape Town - Cape Town residents exchanged strong words about “open religion” outside what proclaims to be South Africa's first gender-equal, non-sectarian mosque on Friday.
Around 10 Muslim men in religious robes stood in front of the gate of the Wynberg open mosque, founded by Dr Taj Hargey, refusing to let people in for its inaugural prayer session at 1pm.
One of the mosque-goers, who did not identify himself, pushed through and shouted at the men.
“South Africa has got a great Constitution. What did you fight apartheid for? Not this crap!” he said, before managing to squeeze through the closing door.
The men moved to the side but still voiced their displeasure at a large throng of reporters and TV cameras.
Shaheem Vardien, from Manenberg, said Hargey was creating “mischief” among Christians, Jews, and Muslims.
“Is this what we want in Cape Town? No, no. If I fall dead right now, what is going to happen to my children. They are going to enter a mosque like this? Not while I am alive, maybe when I am dead yes,” Vardien said.
He insisted that they were not radicals and had practised their religion peacefully in Cape Town for 300 years.
However, the building should be called an open place of worship and not a mosque, as it insulted the religion.
Hargey's mosque welcomed all sects of Muslims, non-Muslims and women to take part in the sermon.
Public order policing vans lined the road close to the unassuming green industrial building, sandwiched between auto-repair workshops.
At 1pm, a group of people entered the mosque from a steel gate on the side of the building, accompanied by three police officers and the media.
Inside, people laid their boots and takkies on metal shelves and kneeled on an emerald green carpet laid across half the cement floor.
Women in headscarves gingerly made their way to chairs or the carpet, not separated by partitions or walls.
Bags of cement and building materials were piled to the side and the odour of carpet glue wafted across the room.
The wall was peppered with the words: “There is no deity except God. Muhammed is the messenger of God.” Hargey was to deliver a sermon on the nexus between Islam and Christianity.