The irony of India’s religious freedom: mosques in Kashmir closed every Friday

The Jamia Kashmir Mosque is closed every Friday because it is considered a hotbed of Indian rebels

REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, SRINAGAR – The Jamia Mosque, the great mosque of Srinagar, rises majestically with a spacious main gate and large tower. The mosque can accommodate about 33 thousand believers. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims have gathered to offer church prayers on religious holidays for many years.

For Kashmiri Muslims, it is a sacred place for Friday prayer and a place where they can express their political rights. But the Indian authorities see a problem in the Jamia Mosque. The mosque has always been considered a place for demonstrators and insurgents to endanger India’s sovereignty over the disputed Kashmir region.

In this bitter dispute, the Jamia Mosque has remained largely closed for the past two years and the mosque’s chief imam has been under house arrest during this time. Now every Friday the main gate of the mosque is locked with a large iron and believers are forbidden to enter the mosque.

The Indian authorities kept mosques open for six days, except on Friday. Friday is the most important day for Muslims when men are obliged to offer Friday prayer in the mosque. This shutdown is India’s attempt to contain the movement of Kashmiri Muslims.

“This is the central mosque where our ancestors, clerics and spiritual teachers were. They and we have used them for prayer and worship for centuries, “said Altaf Ahmad Bhat, an official at the Great Mosque, as quoted by the Associated Press on Thursday (December 16).

Altaf said the reason for authorities to close mosques every Friday is absurd. He added that discussing social, economic and political issues affecting Muslims is the core religious function of any major mosque.

Long-term conflicts are often discussed in sermons in the Jamia mosque. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, the chief imam and one of the leading separatist leaders in the region, gave a fiery speech highlighting the political struggles of Kashmir. The authorities are often restrictive and prohibit prayer in mosques for long periods of time. According to official information, mosques were closed for at least 250 days in 2008, 2010 and 2016.

Number: AP