MEMBERS of Oxford’s Muslim community have issued a rallying call to reopen one of the city’s oldest mosques.

The Bath Street mosque, in East Oxford, has been left to gather dust after it was closed in 2004 and relatives of the founders want to see it reopened.

The mosque opened in 1968 but has stood empty for five years.

Most of the city’s Muslims have moved to the new Central Mosque, in Manzil Way, off Cowley Road, to worship.

Relatives of Muslims who founded the city’s first mosque are furious that it has been left closed.

They have called on the management trustees to reopen it for groups such as the city’s 3,000-strong Arabic Muslims, who currently do not have a place to pray. They temporarily use the Cowley Road Community Centre.

Ali Akkas, 53, from Long Close, in Headington, said: “It’s unreal for Muslims to close a mosque especially the first mosque in Oxford.

“It has been left derelict for five years and is neglected and abandoned.

“We want to see it opened – there are groups in Oxford that do not have a place of worship.

“If the mosque was closed by non-Muslims there would have been a riot in Oxford.”

Mr Akkas’ father Ali Taher was one of the founders of the Bath Street mosque and donated £1,700 to a development fund as the community spent 14 years trying to raise cash in the sixties.

Mr Akkas, who was made a land trustee of the Bath Street mosque in June, said he did not have a key to the property and his requests for one had been turned down.

Mr Akkas, who runs the Bombay restaurant in Walton Street, Jericho, which was the first prayer room for Muslims in Oxford, added: “I’m really shocked at the state of the mosque.

“People like the Arab community could use this mosque.

“I didn’t know they had been using a community centre for nine years to pray.”

However, fellow land trustee Muhammed Aslam Khan, 68, said he had met the Central Mosque’s new chairman Fazal Hussain and he was hopeful the Bath Street Mosque would reopen.

The Oxford Mail was unable to contact anyone from the Oxford Mosque Society (Bath Street) or the Central Oxford Mosque Society.