The council should relax parking restrictions to allow Muslims to attend Friday prayers without the fear of parking wardens “slapping them with fines”, community and council leaders have said.

Muslims choosing to attend Friday prayers at Oxford mosques have found worshipping has come at the cost of parking fines due to the removal of car parking spaces by the county council.

The chairmen and the Imams of Central Oxford Mosque on Manzil Way, Madina Masjid on Stanley Road and Oxford Mosque Society on Bath Street have rallied together support behind city councillor Sajjad Malik’s call for the council to not enforce parking restrictions for one hour during Friday prayers and on Eid days.

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Oxford Mail: Chairmen, Immams and city councillor Sajjad MalikChairmen, Immams and city councillor Sajjad Malik (Image: Ed Halford)

Mr Malik wrote to Andrew Gant, cabinet member for highway management, to ask him to introduce a grace period of minimum one hour which would allow Muslims from across Oxfordshire to worship without facing the prospect of receiving a parking fine.

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Mr Malik said: “People who use the mosque on Bath Street were previously able to park on Morrell Avenue before the council took away this parking.

“At the Central Oxford Mosque, people who travel ages in the car are forced to park on double yellow lines, as otherwise they risk missing the congregation altogether.”

Oxford Mail: Yellow lines on Manzil WayYellow lines on Manzil Way (Image: Ed Halford)

Mr Malik said problems encountered by worshippers at the Madina Majid Mosque were very similar, as parking had been taken away to create space for a new cycle lane.

He said: “People have a right to practise their religion.

“If people park for longer than one hour then the council would be completely entitled to issue a ticket.”

Oxford Mail: Inside Central Oxford MosqueInside Central Oxford Mosque (Image: Ed Halford)

Mr Malik said it was high time the council showed consideration to religious believers.

The Central Oxford Mosque has a capacity of up to 2,000 people and up to a thousand people can visit Friday prayers the Imam Siddiqi said.

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The mosque’s car park can only fit roughly 80 cars inside.

Oxford Mail: Moznu with a picture of the Mosque in the Oxford Mail in 1968Moznu with a picture of the Mosque in the Oxford Mail in 1968 (Image: Ed Halford)

Moznu Miah, chairman of the Oxford Mosque Society, said the community was “begging” the council to relax the restrictions to allow worshippers to spend time in a “sentimental place”.

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Mr Miah said: “It is a really bad situation, as people come from across Oxfordshire and they cannot park anywhere.

“People need to be free to come and go as they please.

“If driveways are blocked, it is completely fair to give motorists two tickets.”

At least 200 Muslims visit the Bath Street Mosque every Friday.

Oxford Mail: Imam SiddiqiImam Siddiqi (Image: Ed Halford)

Faisal Aziz, Central Oxford Mosque’s spokesman, said: “We’ve opened our car park in the past to NHS nurses and doctors because we wanted to help the community.

"We are an inclusive Mosque and assisting our neighbours irrespective of faith or no faith is a major part of our faith as Muslims.

“We are only asking to relax restrictions for one hour minimum.

“We don’t want to see people blocking driveways, as our religion teaches us to look after our neighbours.”

Despite pleas from Imams and Mr Malik, the county council has not indicated it is willing to make an exemption for one hour; with their spokesman insisting that “Our approach has been to simply enforce the restrictions that are in place.”

The council spokesman said: “As well as receiving requests to give concessions or allow grace periods, our parking team regularly receives complaints that we are not doing enough enforcement.

“We must consider the wider impact a change of approach to enforcement may have.

“There are multiple places of worship around Oxfordshire and, to avoid claims of unfairness or inconsistency.

“We believe the best approach is to promote parking legally and this may mean the use of time-limited bays or nearby public car parks in the area.

Oxfordshire County Council is committed to championing active travel through schemes such as cycle lanes.”

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Ed specialises in writing political stories for the Oxford Mail and The Oxford Times. 

He joined in the team in February 2023, after completing a History undergraduate degree at the University of York and studying for his NCTJ diploma in London.

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