Entries in Mosque (9)


Gay Mosque to Open in Paris, Address to Be Secret

Courtesy Ludovic Mohammed Zahed(PARIS) -- Ludovic Mohammed Zahed is braced for controversy, maybe even worse.  A gay Muslim and an expert on the Koran, Zahed plans to open Europe's first gay-friendly mosque in Paris at the end of this month.  He calls it a place of shelter as well as a place of worship.

"We need to have a safe space for people who do not feel comfortable and at ease in normal mosques," Zahed told ABC News.  "There are transgender people who fear aggression, women who do not want to wear head scarf or sit in the back of the mosque.  This project gives hope back to many believers in my community."

"Common prayer, practiced in an egalitarian setting and without any form of gender-based discrimination, is one of the pillars supporting the proposed reforms of our progressive representation of Islam," he said.

"The Unity" mosque will initially operate in a Buddhist temple in a neighborhood in eastern Paris, and will emphasize "accepting everyone as equally God's creation. ...I hope straight men will pray together with gay men and women, everyone," said Zahed who declines to make public the address of the venue, due to security concerns.

Zahed's mosque will honor some Islamic traditions, like Friday prayers (Jumu'ah), and the Muslim marriage contract (Nikah) to bless same-sex marriage.  It will also perform funeral rites (Janazah) for those who have been denied a traditional Islamic funeral based on Sharia law because of their sexual orientation.

"It is a safe place to worship," said Zahed, where no religious questions will go unaddressed.  "Our imams will talk on any taboo topic."

Zahed will be one of three prayer leaders, along with a female French convert to Islam and another man who is being trained.

"Current Islamic ethics may condemn this sexual orientation," Zahed said, "but in fact nothing in Islam or the Koran forbids homosexuality.  Indeed, for centuries, Muslims did not consider homosexuality to be the supreme abomination that they do today."

According to Zahed, renowned Muslim poets wrote odes glorifying handsome boys.  Some were interpreted as metaphors for loving God, but some also seem to reference gay intimate relations.  He argues that homosexuality became criminalized only under European colonialism.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mosque Attack in Israel; Police Suspect Jewish Extremists

MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- A mosque in a Bedouin village in northern Israel went up in flames early Monday morning in what authorities suspect was an arson attack by Jewish right-wing extremists. The inside of the mosque was badly damaged and hundreds of holy books, including the Koran, were destroyed.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vehemently condemned the attack, saying it violates the country's values of freedom of religion and the freedom to worship. The incident has sparked clashes in the Bedouin village, and Israel is increasing its security to prevent further attacks and violence. The country has beefed up security around all mosques after the arson attack.

Graffitti left by the attackers included the last name of Jew killed in a terrorist attack near Hebron last month, leading police to believe this was a "price tag" or revenge attack. Bedouin residents, some who have served in the Israeli army, were stunned by the attack, given they've always had peaceful ties with their Jewish neighbors.

Angry Bedouin youth reportedly retaliated overnight, lighting three municipal buildings on fire.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Copenhagen Mosque Shooting Leaves One Dead, Two Wounded

John Foxx/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(COPENHAGEN, Denmark) -- A shooting incident outside a mosque in Copenhagen has left a 21-year-old man of Pakistani origin dead and two others injured, according to reports.

Eyewitnesses say an argument and scuffles broke out between two groups in the parking lot of a mosque as nearly 1,000 congregation members departed the mosque right after prayers marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Fifteen to 20 shots then rang out, according to one witness.

Currently, no arrests have been made, but Danish police are searching for the perpetrator allegedly seen standing over the victim during the shooting, according to The Copenhagen Post.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Iraq: At Least Four Killed in Two Bomb Attacks

Antenna Audio, Inc./Getty Images(BAGHDAD) -- At least four people were killed in two bomb attacks involving mosques in Iraq on Sunday.

In one incident, a suicide bomber blew himself up inside the Um Al Qurra mosque in the Ghazaliyah neighborhood of western Baghdad, killing at least two people and injuring eight others, according to initial reports. An attack inside the mosque is considered to be an unusual occurrence, since the mosque tends to be heavily protected by security officers.

In the other incident, a car bomb reportedly detonated near the Sunni mosque of Omar Bin Khattab in the Al Ia’laam area, killing at least two people and injuring seven others.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Syrian Protestors Violently Attacked by Security Forces at Mosque 

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- Syrian protestors at a Damascus mosque were violently attacked Saturday by security forces, BBC News reports.

At least one person is believed to have been killed when security officials stormed the al-Rifai mosque located in the Kafar Susseh district.

The clash was just one protest among many against Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad. The United Nations reports that more than 2,000 people have been killed since the clashes in Syria began in March.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Dozens Killed after Explosion Rocks Pakistan Mosque

George Doyle/Thinkstock(PESHAWAR, Pakistan) -- At least 40 people are dead after an explosion ripped through a mosque in northwest Pakistan during Friday prayers, according to local officials.

The blast, which occurred in the Khyber tribal district near Peshawar, is believed to have been the result of a suicide bomber.

"It was a suicide attack.  The bomber was wearing about 8-10kg of explosives and was on foot.  He detonated in the main prayer hall," Khalid Mumtaz Kundi, the deputy chief of the Khyber administration, told AFP.

The attack also left dozens injured, many seriously.

"The [death] toll could rise as many wounded are in serious condition," Kundi said.

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the bombing.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Moscow Has a Mosque Controversy Too

File Photo: Muslim men pray during the Eid al-Adha (Kurban Bairam in Russian) holiday in Moscow. Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MOSCOW) -- The leaders of Moscow's 1.5-million strong Muslim community say they desperately need more places of worship.  However, a plan to build a new mosque has run into local opposition which is being fueled by nationalists calling for a "clean Moscow" without Muslims and foreigners.

Small trees are supposed to be keeping the Muslims out of Tekstilshchiki, a district in southeastern Moscow.  A young man sets to work with his shovel, pushing it into the earth with a determined kick.  Then he places a seedling into the hole and sprinkles earth over it.  Using her watering can, Maria Sotova pours some water onto the seedling. "We want a park here and not a mosque or a church or anything else," says the mother, who is here with her six-year-old son.  There are about a hundred residents of Tekstilshchiki gathered on this lawn -- and they want to prevent the start of construction on an Islamic religious center.

The Moscow media have already christened this patch of green "the Russian Ground Zero" in a reflection of strife over the mosque being built near Ground Zero, the site where the twin towers of the World Trade Center stood in New York City before the terror attack of 9/11. 

The country's largest online newspaper,, drew parallels with other European controversies surrounding Islam:  The burqa ban in France and the immigration debate now raging in Germany.  Europeans are frightened of Islam because the religion's values are utterly foreign to them, the article said.  "Now we are experiencing something similar in Moscow and St. Petersburg."

According to estimates by the Moscow council of muftis (equivalent to a council of deacons in the Christian faith), up to 20 million Muslims live in Russia today.  Muslims have dominated some parts of the country for centuries.  While the predominantly Muslim Republic of Tatarstan in the Volga region is regarded as moderate, guerrillas are fighting to set up an Islamic state in the northern Caucasus.  Islamic extremists were behind the suicide bomb attacks that shook the Russian capital this March and killed 40 people.

The planned mosque would only be the fifth in Moscow, even though this metropolis of 10.5 million has more than 1.5 million Muslim residents.  In comparison, Berlin, which has a proportion of Muslims amounting to less than a sixth of Moscow's, has at least six large mosques.  That is why the Moscow council of muftis wants more mosques to be built and says Moscow should have up to 40.

The Moscow mufti council, which is responsible for building the mosque, is convinced that nationalists are behind the protests against their house of worship. They say that the mosque will be built at the edge of the park anyway, leaving plenty of room for recreation and dog walkers. "The problem lies elsewhere," says Ildar Aljautdinov, the imam at Moscow's largest mosque. He warns that some Muslims may become radicalized if they don't have mosques to worship in. "We must build more mosques," he says. "Otherwise something bad will replace the religion."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Bomb Blast In Afghanistan Kills Provincial Governor, Civilians

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- A bomb blast in northern Afghanistan killed 15 people Friday, including a provincial governor.  The explosion ripped though a crowded mosque during prayers, instantly killing Mohammad Omar, the governor of the key northern province of Kunduz.

Many U.S. supplies now travel through Kunduz, since the route through Pakistan has become less reliable.  But this new northern supply line has made the entire area more insecure.  As U.S. troops focus on fanning out across southern Afghanistan, it is more difficult for them to stop the Taliban from spreading in the north and killing governors and civilians every day.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Palestinian Mosque Burned In Suspected Arson Attack

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(PALESTINE) -- A suspected arson attack early Monday caused damage to the walls and carpets of a Palestinian mosque in the West Bank region of Palestine. Palestinians have accused settlers of torching the mosque overnight in Beit Fajjar, near the large settlement block of Gush Etzion.

Israeli military say they are urgently investigating the case.

Graffiti suggesting that this was the latest so-called “price tag” attack by settlers was found on the mosque’s wall.  Extremist settlers have been carrying out similar attacks to set a "price" on Israeli actions against illegal outposts and other curbs on settlement construction.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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