Aug 31 2010
Muslims prayed on the street, between cars, next to the fairground, following the closure of the main mosque, in a conflict that threatens to raise tension in an area of Catalonia with the rise of immigrants from Islamic countries.
The closure of a mosque because of exceeding capacity regulations opens up a conflict in Lleida.
Lleida City Council ordered the precautionary closure of the mosque in the Nord Street, which attracts a large number of faithful, for violating the regulations on local authorized capacity. Local police found that inside there were 1,200 people, five times more than allowed by the license, which is 240 people.
Abdelwahab, who runs the offices in the Nord mosque, said that “the issue is more political than technical.” After denying that the place has ever hosted 1,200 people, Houzi explained that the Muslim community appeal the decision of the Consistory. “It’s a totally exaggerated figure. It is impossible that so many people have been counted. We believe it is a figure previously planned. It’s ridiculous. We are persecuted,”he said. Houzi, who denies being Salafi, one of the more radical currents of Islam, said that the closure may be related to his stance against the ordinance banning the Islamic headscarf-mainly integral burqa and niqab – in buildings and municipal facilities. The City of Lleida in Catalonia was the first to ban the burqa and niqab within the municipal premises.
The location of the mosque in the Nord Street in the basement of a residential building and a narrow street with parking problems has been since its inception nine years ago, a constant source of conflict with neighbors. Lleida, which is around 140,000 inhabitants, has been increasing in recent years the immigrant population, which at this stage as exceeds 20%, mostly of North African and Romanian groups.
Ros has asked the faithful of the Nord mosque, as he does, is a practicing Catholic, pray at home during the time that the premises remain closed. The mayor said that “it is the duty of the City Council provide temples of worship” to the population. “Clearly what they have to do if they want to pray in public at a mosque, is to meet the conditions and respect the law.” Ros stressed that the Muslim community should be grateful to the City by ensuring their safety. El Pais h/t Maria