South Africa's gay-friendly mosque under fire from Muslim community

A gay-friendly mosque has been opened in South Africa's Cape Town amid fierce criticism from the local Muslim community.

Johannesburg: A gay-friendly mosque has been opened in South Africa's Cape Town amid fierce criticism from the local Muslim community.

The new 'Open Mosque' also planning to have women as imams.

Launched by Muslim academic Taj Hargey, the South African-born director of the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford, the first Friday prayers at the 'Open Mosque' drew more media crews than worshippers.

Fourteen national and provincial organisations representing the Muslim community across South Africa issued a joint statement condemning Hargey's plans.

"Hargey's cult has totally no affinity with the? Islam which the Muslims of South Africa follow," the statement read.

"We believe that it is illegal and highly deceptive for Hargey to?call his warehouse of 'worship' a 'mosque', and his cult 'Islam'".

The religious leaders said they were considering the possibility of instituting legal action against Hargey, the Cape Town-born chairman of the Muslim Education Centre of Oxford which he founded in the UK.

Hargey, whose controversial liberal views on Islam have received worldwide publicity, cited intimidation from the South African Muslim institutions for the poor turnout at his launch. 

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