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