05:16PM, Thursday 22 April 2021
A mosque in Slough has responded to a dispute over women being stopped from attending ritual prayers during Ramadan.
Worshipper Julie Siddiqi spoke out against the Jamia Masjid and Islamic Centre, in Stoke Poges Lane, last week.
She criticised the religious venue’s decision to just allow men to attend daily Taraweeh prayers throughout the holy month due to coronavirus restrictions.
A statement attributed to unnamed female volunteers at the mosque said women were ‘fully involved’ in the decision-making process over access to the centre.
It said: “A consultation was held regarding Ramadan/Taraweeh prayers and whether we could welcome our female congregation.
“This was a difficult decision, unfortunately, it was decided with deep regret, that this would be hard to manage due to current measures around COVID: that it would be more viable to stick to a phased return in line with government guidelines.
“The sisters volunteering were concerned about the lack of female resources in being unable to control the large numbers of ladies that attend during the month of Ramadan while trying to maintain social distancing within the current on-way system as defined in the risk assessment.”
The statement added the volunteers agreed with the decision of the trustees due to the need to protect the health and safety of helpers at the mosque.
It added numerous initiatives have been led by women at the mosque in recent years including breastfeeding clinics, sporting activities for females and classes for non-English speaking women.
Mrs Siddiqi, a gender equality campaigner of more than 20 years, said: “I remain committed to helping develop positive institutions that better reflect the gender equality our beautiful faith teaches.
“In many cases up and down the country, women are excluded, not welcomed and not supported.
"Their talents are not utilised and their voices are not heard. Important issues they face and need help with are not managed or dealt with properly, with the love and compassion that is needed and deserved, that should be coming from these institutions."
She added: “I’m glad to see more people acknowledging that much more needs to be done and I will continue to play my part in raising awareness and helping move the conversations and efforts forward in productive ways.
“Sometimes it is hard for us to hear the truth when it challenges the status quo and puts us out our comfort zone.
“From the years I have been involved in community organising I can see that change in Muslim communities is coming, albeit slowly perhaps in some cases.”
She added her initial video hitting out at the access for women had no intention of undermining the work which is being done by female volunteers at the mosque.
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