Mosque led by women and female Imams opened in Denmark to challenge Islam’s patriarchal structure

  • The Independent |
  • Saturday 13 February 2016
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The Mariam mosque will have mixed services for everything except Friday prayers – and all will be led by women Getty Images

Scandinavia’s very first female-led mosque has opened in Denmark in a bid to challenge Islam’s “patriarchal structures”.

All activities at the Mariam mosque in Copenhagen – except Friday prayers – will be open to men but all the imams will be female.

Founder Sherin Khankan told Agence France Presse she wanted to set up the mosque to challenge the “normalised patriarchal structures”.

She said:  “We have normalised patriarchal structures in our religious institutions. Not just in Islam, but also within Judaism and Christianity and other religions. And we would like to challenge that”.

Ms Khankan, who is a well known commentator in Denmark, said the reaction from the local Muslim community has been mostly positive with only “moderate” opposition in some quarters.

She said there was a tradition within Islam of women being imams and most of the criticism was based on ignorance.

A similar project has been proposed in Bradford for British Muslim women.

Last year, the Muslim Women’s Council (MWC) announced plans for a mosque in the city to be run by women which were put forward for public consultation in August.

This latest drive for greater gender equality within European Islam comes as the British Labour party was hit by allegations that the national executive was casting a blind to the “systematic misogyny” of some of its Muslim male Labour councillors.

Muslim Women’s Network UK (MWNUK) chairwoman Shaista Gohr said the party had allowed local Muslim councillors to operate a “patriarchal biradari system” where men could intimidate or pressure women considering running for local council seats.

One alleged victim, Fozia Paveen, told Newsnight that male councillors had operated a “smear campaign” against her when she attempted to stand as a councillor in Birmingham in 2007-8, and had threatened her mother.

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