Raleigh, NC

Raleigh’s Muslim community protests Shaw’s ongoing mosque closure

The Triangle Tribune

A protester makes his feelings known.Photo byMia Khatib/Tribune

By Mia Khatib


RALEIGH — For the third Friday in a row, dozens of Raleigh Muslims gathered outside Shaw University’s campus mosque to pray and protest its ongoing closure. The university has not reopened the King Khaild Mosque since it closed during the pandemic, and protesters said they will continue to rally until it does.

Mosque leaders told The Tribune that their multiple requests to resume prayers have been denied for COVID-19 safety concerns. Meanwhile, the nearby campus chapel is open to the public and routinely hosts religious services.

Imam Juma Mussa said this isn’t Shaw’s first time trying to shut down the mosque, which shares space with the school’s International Studies Center. In the early 2000s, University leaders wanted to replace the mosque with a gym or offices but were unsuccessful, he said.

Shaw received a million-dollar donation from the daughter of a Saudi Arabian king in the 1980s to construct the mosque and academic space. Mussa said the building exists because of Muslim funding and the worshippers won’t let it go. “Many of the people protesting today (Jan. 27) have been here since they were crawling,” he said. “The first place they attend to for prayer is here so they feel like this is their home.”

Mussa said Shaw always speaks out against racial discrimination, but now they’re discriminating against Muslims. “It’s like a slap in the face. They have Muslim students that attend here so discriminating against us is also discriminating against their own students. That’s not right,” he said.

Protester Abdul Ndao, who said he is the mosque administrator, said Shaw is using the pandemic as an excuse to kick Muslims out, and if COVID-19 was really a concern “then the rules should apply to everyone.” He also said the University changed the mosque’s locks without telling the imams or the community.

“When Governor Cooper said, ‘we need to open every place of worship in the Triangle,’ why not ours?” he said. “All our stuff is locked in that building, and we can’t do anything about it.”

Shaw alum Abdulrahmann said the mosque means a lot to him: it’s where he met his wife; where he took his ‘Shahadah’ and converted to Islam; and where he would go for guidance, comfort and support as a student. He said he continued to frequent the holy site even after graduating in 2016.

“Everyone else is back on campus, the chapel is open, the students are now able to host basketball games, why aren’t we able to pray?” he said. “We're not asking for anything other. We just want to do what we've been doing for 30 years. Allow us to pray.”

Shaw University responded in a statement: “In response to recent protests, Shaw University respects the First Amendment rights of individuals to peaceably assemble and voice their concerns. As previously announced, the International Studies Center on the campus of Shaw University is open and available for use to enrolled students; access to the mosque by Shaw students is coordinated through the University's Chaplain office. In the wake of the pandemic, the campus mosque will only be available to currently enrolled Shaw University students, and the revised hours of operation for the center will be communicated directly to students.”

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The Triangle Tribune is a part of The Charlotte Post Publishing Company. We are a multimedia conglomerate that covers the Triangle's African American community in community news, business, HBCU sports, health, and arts and lifestyle since March 1998.

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