South Africa’s first gay-friendly mosque must close because of lack of parking spaces, Cape Town council has ruled.
According to a BBC report, the Open Mosque has violated municipal by-laws.
The mosque officially opened its doors on Friday despite criticism from members of the local Muslim community.
Women are also allowed to lead prayers, contrary to established Islamic practices.
But the founder, Taj Hargey, insists the mosque would help counter radicalism.
“The City Council is trying to close the mosque using ridiculous bylaws and I will not be threatened by them or anyone else,” Hargey told the BBC.
“We have freedom of religion and expression in this country. No-one has the right to tell anyone what to believe in. This is a gender equal mosque, autonomous and independent and will remain so.”
The councillor who spoke with the BBC, Ganief Hendricks, defended the plan to close the mosque.
“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 said.
He said 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,” Hendricks said.
A local by-law stipulates that a place of worship should have one parking bay per 10 worshippers on the premises.
The process of applying for the necessary paperwork could take up to six months, he said.
Hargey told the BBC that he believed everything was in order.
“It is pure intimidation. Why are they so scared? Because they know if this mosque succeeds their theological monopoly is over,” he said.
“This is not a gay mosque. But I will not turn anyone away based on race or sexual orientation.
“This mosque is based on the original mosque in Medina with one door where men and women come together to pray.
“I want my mother, wife, daughter to pray alongside me. Not be second class citizens. They pray together at Haj, why can’t they pray together in the mosques of the world?”