Muslims call on council for help

RAMADAN: Sayed Rezai is joined by Griffith and Leeton Shia Muslims taking the chance to eat and drink between 6pm and 5am.

RAMADAN: Sayed Rezai is joined by Griffith and Leeton Shia Muslims taking the chance to eat and drink between 6pm and 5am.

GRIFFITH'S fastest growing ethnic group has called on council to help establish a second mosque in the city.

There are roughly 200 Shia Muslims in Griffith and Leeton and community leaders have found it increasingly difficult to accommodate private prayer sessions.

The issue has arisen during Ramadan, a month-long fasting ritual ending next Tuesday when they will collect money to donate to poor locals and forgive any personal disputes.

While there is already an Islamic mosque on Benerembah Street, it is exclusively a place of worship for Sunni Muslims, a fundamentally different religious denomination.

Griffith resident Mohmmad Karimi explained a mosque was crucial to attracting an Imam, an Islamic religious leader capable of teaching the next generation.

Mr Karimi said the majority of the local Shia community had fled persecution at the hands of the anti-Shia Taliban in Afghanistan and were not in a position to independently fund a place of worship.

"It's a big problem not having a mosque and so of course we would like council to help us," Mr Karimi said.

"It is necessary for all Muslims to have a mosque and the families here would contribute all they could.

"Last year we rented a room in Griffith High School but since then what we would normally practise in a mosque we have been practising inside the home."

Mr Karimi explained establishing a mosque would not require a building like that of the Sikh Temple in Hanwood, rather he was hoping to lease a disused public building at a discounted rate.

Caseworker for the Settlement Grants Program at Griffith Centacare, Joanne Fitzpatrick, said the community had made do for long enough.

"The majority of Afghans came to Griffith in the late '90s and early 2000s but recently there has been another rise in the population," she said.

"A lot of them work at the Baiada processing plant and do seasonal work where they can, while many of those from Leeton predominately work at the JBS Swift feedlot.

"They have managed well until now but the numbers have grown to the point that they need a bigger place."

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