CAIRO – A top Muslim leader has called for building more mosques and community centers in Hong Kong to help accommodate the religious needs of a growing minority on the island.
"There are not enough places to pray,” Khan Muhammad Malik, chairman of the Federation of Muslim Association in Hong Kong, told South China Morning Post.
There are only five mosques in Hong Kong.
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While four mosques are located on Hong Kong island, there is only one Muslim worship place in the southern area of Tsim Sha Tsui.
Malik said the Muslim community in Hong Kong has grown five-fold while the number of mosques remained the same.
“There's always a big crowd.”
The Muslim leader said that there was an urgent need to build new mosques in the New Territories, one of the three main regions of Hong Kong.
He said Muslims living in Tuen Mun and Yuen Long were finding difficulty in getting access to a place of worship in the region.
Estimates put the number of Muslims in Hong Kong between 200,000 and 250,000.
About 100,000 are from Indonesia and work as domestic helpers. The rest come from all over the world, including large populations from Pakistan, Bangladesh and West Africa.
Only 20,000 or so are Hong Kong citizens.
The Muslim leader also called for building more community centers on the island.
"The children have nowhere to go," Malik said.
"We could teach them better if there were community halls in Hong Kong."
He said that rents in Hong Kong are too high for the Muslim community to lease places on their own.
There are small Islamic meeting places and informal Islamic schools throughout Hong Kong.
Malik complained that non-Chinese speakers were finding difficulty in seeking medical help in Hong Kong.
He also cited difficulties facing non-Chinese speakers in enrolling at universities on the island.
"If they can give overseas students chances to study in Hong Kong, why can't they give chances to non-Chinese-speaking local residents?"
Mainland China has now 20 million Muslims, about half of them being from the Hui ethnic group.Unofficially, Muslim groups say the number is even higher, stating that there are from 65-100 million Muslims in China — up to 7.5 percent of the population.
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