'Open mosque' founder remains resolute

Taj Hargey said his aim is to create religious transformation, especially in a democratic South Africa.

The country's first 'open mosque' held its first prayer service this afternoon. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The founder of the first " open mosque" in the country is determined to keep its doors open despite harsh criticism from within the Muslim community.

The mosque held its first prayer service this afternoon.

Several protesters from the Muslim faith gathered outside the Mosque in Wynberg before prayer at 1pm.

The mosque welcomes gay people, Muslims from different sects, as well as non-Muslims. It has also invited women to lead prayers.

Protesters say Muslim people shouldn't enter the building as the Mosque doesn't stand for the teachings of Islam and the Quran.

Founder Taj Hargey however, went ahead with his Friday prayer service.

He said his aim is to create a religious transformation, especially in a democratic South Africa.

He said it's time men and women are treated equally.

"If you want to come to a Mosque like this where everybody is treated equal, please come. However, if you do not like this please stay at your mosque - don't bother us. Are you afraid of the truth?"

In a statement released on Thursday, the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) strongly advised Muslims to refrain from attending the mosque.

Yet earlier this week, the MJC's Nabeweya Malick told Eyewitness News people shouldn't protest against the opening of the mosque.

"Being a religion of peace, Islam advocates amicable and peaceful solutions. The MJC has not called for any protest action against the establishment of the open mosque."

On Tuesday, Hargey responded to his detractors by saying he's merely trying to dispel "the man-made lies" around Islam and promote gender equality.

Hargey said men and women should be able to worship together.

"Nowhere in the Quran does it say people should pray separately. Nowhere does it say men and women should be segregated."

He said the Muslim clergy had become theological mafia that dictated and monopolised everything in the Muslim community.