NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Muslims in New Jersey who have been locked out of their mosque are celebrating Ramadan in the street.
Muslims prayed and shared a meal Friday on the sidewalk outside their shuttered mosque in Newark.
“This is a whole community. This building was an ecosystem,” congregant Bashir Ali told CBS2’s Ali Bauman.
The Branford mosque has been in the 11-story building for 40 years. In December, the Islamic Society of Essex County sold the property. Congregants say they had no idea until the door was padlocked.
“If we did have knowledge about that, we would’ve stopped this from day one,” mosque member Sanaa Khalifa said.
“This is our little home away from home,” mosque member Aminha Kanate said.
This week began the holy month of Ramadan, when this community would typically pray and break fast together inside the mosque every night.
“We’re not gonna stop them because we don’t have a place. No, we’re gonna protest by peacefully gathering where we would be,” Ali said.
Congregants filed a lawsuit against the Islamic Society, but their court date is in May, after Ramadan ends.
“No matter the weather, no matter the day, the night, anything like that, we’re out here because we know that in our hearts it’s open to the community,” Kanate said.
A spokesman for Paramount Assets, which bought the property, told us they have offered to undo the transaction if the Islamic Society is willing to discuss it, but that has not happened yet.
“Our being here is a statement that we haven’t lost faith in what we believe in,” Ali said.
CBS2 has reached out repeatedly to the Islamic Society of Essex County, but so far nobody has gotten back to us.