UK mosques must make space for women – not turn us away

…. Of the 1,975 mosques in Britain, 28% do not offer facilities for women, and up to 50% of all South Asian-run mosques do not accommodate them. When mosques do offer it, the access is restricted, and often does not even include a prayer space, but rather a teaching space, such as a girls’ madrasa.

The 36-year-old activist Anita Nayyar established the Open My Mosque initiative in 2015, which highlights how, if you’re a woman, it’s far less likely you’ll get a foot in the door, let alone munch a samosa with the imam. Nayyar has been documenting experiences of women across Britain who use words like “frustrated”, “isolated” and “humiliated”. Her team receives hundreds of calls, emails and social media messages from women (and men) who are grateful to have a platform to express their grievances.

“Women who feel excluded from the mosque face more exclusion than their non-Muslim counterparts,” says Nayyar. “If they cannot participate in religious life, then they can’t get involved in community life, and that increases the already existing lack of inclusion of Muslim women in public life.”

[TOP RATED COMMENT 374 votes] “Women who feel excluded from the mosque face more exclusion than their non-Muslim counterparts,” says Nayyar. “If they cannot participate in religious life, then they can’t get involved in community life, and that increases the already existing lack of inclusion of Muslim women in public life.”

I, for one, have a hard time understanding religious people and religious mentality in general. Religion, to me, in particular, should be an entirely private experience and, as such, should not hinder inclusion in the wider, secular society of Western Europe. If your religion prevents you to be a full part of society, then the problem is likely to be within your religion, rather than in society itself.

That said, if someone chooses to be religious, then of course should get equal treatment under whatever religion they are brought up to practice.

Islam seems to be especially lacking in any form of parity between men and women.

[2ND 346] About time we had journalistic scrutiny of this deep inequality and sexism in the very infrastructure of the faith, my former faith. True, this has occurred and still occurs across most religions, but here we have a glaring example of exclusivity based on gender which has remained very hidden. In fact I would go so far as to say that most Mosques, the small ones in ordinary residential homes and unused spaces above shops, are pretty much a law unto themselves and I am afraid extremist preaching has happened, a lot. I remember my Mosque in Haringey taking part most weekends where in public they would lay out a stall with homophobic signs- gays cause aids etc.

This was all tolerated by the Liberal Left and I find it fascinating. A right wing movement laying out its stall in public in a London high street would be challenged and rightly so. Those on the Left need to understand that the extremist forms of this religion are fascist and right wing in nature. Being mainly brown skinned does not mean we are immune to such ideology. Now, get with it please, and campaign for more equality and more openness, as well as gay friendly Mosques, please!

[3RD 259 ] Good luck with that, you won’t get any backing from any of the authorities, they’re too scared to criticise for fear of being called racist.

[4TH 238] The UK, and every country that gives lip service to equality of the sexes, has a responsibility to require all religious facilities to give equal access to women. No mosque should be free to ban women, or restrict women’s full participation in any way. [Guardian Cif] Read more

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