It was a joyous day on April 29th when the Hudson Islamic Center in upstate New York finally broke ground on a new mosque.
Of course, no women were allowed.
A small Muslim community in upstate New York has been thrust into a debate on the place of women after one of their members made a call for change on social media.
For the Hudson Islamic Center, 29 April was a momentous day.
After more than 20 years praying in another building’s basement, they were ready to begin work on a space of their own.
While they had acquired land in 2007, the community had spent years collecting funds for construction. Now with contributions from the working-class families that made up their community and a commitment from a New York City Muslim builder to take payment in phases, the time had come to build a mosque.
On the bright Sunday morning, the community gathered for the groundbreaking ceremony. Local dignitaries were invited, speeches were made and the $1.5m project – a three-floor structure with two minarets and a dome – was unveiled.
Missing from the picture, however, were the women from the community, many of whom had been actively involved in fundraising.
A local Muslim woman, Jabin Ahmed Ruhii, took to Facebook to express her frustration.
“Although the invitation letter said, ‘dear brothers and sisters’ – the men were explicitly told that women are not a part of this gathering,” she wrote.
Ruhii, 24, called the exclusion “discrimination against women and young girls”
The comments caused an uproar in the local Islamic community. Her brothers were abused and her mother was given the cold-shoulder at work.
This was in upstate New York.