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Worshipper speaks out over restricted access for women at Slough mosque

A worshipper has spoken out against her mosque in Slough following its decision to stop women attending ritual prayers during Ramadan.

The Jamia Masjid and Islamic Centre, in Stoke Poges Lane, is hosting daily Tarawih prayers throughout the holy month.

But the religious venue is only allowing men to attend due to a reduced capacity of 220 people in line with the Government’s coronavirus restrictions.

Julie Siddiqi, a gender equality campaigner of more than 20 years, described her mosque’s decision as an ‘injustice’.

She told the Express: “Talking about this stuff publicly is not always easy because these are negative things, I love my faith and I love my community but when you know there’s injustice happening sometimes the only way is to talk about it publicly.

“Essentially they are saying because of health and safety it’s too difficult to manage men and women.

“I know the mosque well and it’s totally doable to have women on the first floor and men on the other floor.”

Mrs Siddiqi, who recently received an MBE for her work in inter-faith relations, said there should be fair and equal access for men and women at the mosque and priority should not be given to one gender.

She added: “This is way beyond COVID, this is a mind-set that tells men they can decide whether women can go and pray in a Mosque.

“There’s no more right for men than women when it comes to these prayers during Ramadan.

“One should not be given more priority than the other.”

Latif Khan, secretary at the Jamia Masjid and Islamic Centre, said the decision has been made for health and safety reasons and added the mosque’s sole focus has been protecting its community from COVID-19 during the pandemic.

He said: “There comes a time when we have to take with good faith decisions which safeguard everyone.

“Come June 21 I can categorically state if everything goes as planned they (women) will be there on the first day.”

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