Arson attack at Cape Town's open mosque

Controversial open mosque damaged by fire and vandalism

A police investigation is underway after the façade of Cape Town's so-called open mosque was damaged by fire and its windows smashed during the early hours of 4 October.

The founder of the controversial mosque is Taj Hargey, an outspoken Muslim academic originally from Cape Town but based in the UK. He said that petrol and oil were used in the arson attack which was captured by security cameras and took place on the eve of the Muslim holy festival of Eid.

Located on Lester Road in the southern Wynberg suburb of Cape Town, the mosque is described by Hargey as interracial, gender-equal and open to non-Muslims, homosexuals and women, as well as allowing both Sunni and Shia Muslims to attend the same service. Before being opened on 19 September, the mosque faced opposition from members of the large local Muslim community, some of whom accused Hargey of heresy.

Shortly after opening the mosque was closed down temporarily over failing to provide adequate parking spaces, as required by municipal laws. Hargey claimed it was an attempt by Muslim city councillors to shut down his mosque which he says continues to “operate as normal” despite the attack.