Sydney: Major Mosque Opts for Politician-Free Eid Prayer in Solidarity with Gaza

17:07 - April 10, 2024
News ID: 3487891
IQNA – In a departure from tradition, the Lakemba Mosque in Sydney did not extend an invitation to any politicians for the annual Eid prayer this year in support of Gaza.


The mosque, one of the largest in Australia, was teeming with thousands of Muslims who had congregated for the morning Eid prayer. Notably absent, however, were the politicians who are typically present on such occasions. The reason for their absence was not due to scheduling conflicts, but rather a conscious decision by the mosque to not extend an invitation, ABC News reported on Wednesday.

Traditionally, the first day of Eid, which marks the end of Ramadan’s month-long fast, sees a gathering of not just the Muslim community, but also the Prime Minister, the New South Wales Premier, Members of Parliament, council members, and a host of special guests at the Lakemba Mosque.

This year, however, the mosque decided against inviting any politicians. The decision was driven by increasing concerns within the Muslim community regarding the government’s response to the ongoing war in Gaza.

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Gamel Kheir, the secretary of the Lakemba Mosque, stated that the decision to exclude MPs from this year’s annual Eid prayer was straightforward. “We’ve broken the tradition of inviting the politicians in support of Gaza,” he said. “We’re making this a day of celebration with our community without the fanfare and the festivities that usually entail with the politicians.”

Since October 7, the Israeli war has claimed the lives of over 33,000 Palestinians, with children accounting for nearly a third of the casualties. Kheir expressed that there is a pervasive sentiment among the Arab and Muslim community that the government has not adequately addressed their concerns about the war.

“The federal government has been moving more towards the compassionate side and we’d like to thank them for that,” he said. “But we don’t think it’s gone far enough. There has to be a demand for a ceasefire by Australia taking the lead.”

This sentiment is causing a ripple effect within the Muslim community and the broader political landscape. Kheir noted that there is a palpable tension within the community, and he does not foresee it dissipating anytime soon. “The community senses that we’ve been alienated, and the feeling of compassion for the people of Gaza is not there,” he said.

In response to the government’s handling of the Gaza situation, the country’s peak Islamic bodies declined invitations to the annual state iftar in both Victoria and New South Wales last month, leading to their cancellation.

Recent polling data reveals a shift in the political leanings of Muslim voters, who are increasingly turning against the Labor government over this issue. Redbridge, a polling group, conducted two focus groups within the Arabic and Turkish communities in the safe Labor seat of Calwell in Melbourne. The findings suggest a readiness to vote against the government in the upcoming election.


Source: Agencies