Cape Town’s controversial Open Mosque has been closed down by the city, a day after its opening – apparently for contravening zoning requirements.
According to reports, the warehouse housing the mosque does not have sufficient parking for use as a place of worship.
EWN reported that the mosque was closed on Monday and it remains unclear for how long its doors will stay shut. The SABC said that it had been closed down on Saturday.
City of Cape Town Councillor Ganief Hendricks told the SABC that rezoning the building could take up to four months.
“The regulations say for every two worshippers there needs to be a parking bay. There is no place for any parking bays on the premises, so they won’t be able to meet the parking regulations,” he said.
“It is highly unlikely that the city will grant the application to change it from a warehouse to a mosque. The only solution is if they buy the premises next door and then combine the two.”
Interestingly, Councillor Hendricks is leader of the Al Jama-ah political party, which supports Islamic shariah religious law that condemns homosexuality.
The Mosque’s founder, Cape Town born imam and Oxford University professor Taj Hargey, told the SABC that it would reopen on Tuesday.
He said that he had been in Johannesburg and Durban for meetings over the weekend and as soon as he returned to Cape Town he would resolve the matter.
“There is a mixed view zone allowing for a place of worship, the only thing we need to sort out with the council is how many parking spaces [are available],” he said.
The mosque, which opened last week Friday, has been met by a storm of outrage from conservative Muslims because it is welcoming of gay worshippers, welcomes Muslims from all sects and also allows women to lead prayers and to play a part in its running.
Its opening was marred by protesters who tried to block worshippers from entering the venue. A sign outside the door proclaims, “All welcome.”