A New York Islamic center has opted to remain closed in spite of President Donald Trump’s call for places of worship to reopen.
During a press conference on Friday, Trump ordered places of worship to open and said that he would overrule governors if they decided to refuse the order.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany further added in a briefing: “The president will strongly encourage every governor to allow their churches to reopen. We can all hope that this Sunday, people are allowed to pray to their gods all across the country.”
Still, the Islamic Center of Rochester in New York said it would not resume, even as the holy month of Ramadan drew to a close.
Islamic Center of Rochester president Tabassam Javed had earlier told Spectrum News that the timing was not right to reopen. “Places of worship are not ready,” he said. “Our medical experts have been telling us something, and we’ve been adhering to that and really getting the benefit of that.”
Javed explained that he did not feel comfortable reopening, and that his mosque would follow state and local authorities. “I would not feel comfortable because I would have not met the prerequisites, the requirements, for a safe entry at the place of worship,” he continued.
In an interview Saturday morning, Javed told Newsweek that his center is not prepared to meet all the prerequisites that are needed for a safe reopening. “So that was the main focal point, like looking at the evidence, looking at the CDC recommendations and all that,” he said.
“And, also looking at the governors and also looking at the county directors, at the local levels. So, those became my criteria, in terms of the federal response is really not significant, because the federal government does not have any authority on the governors in terms of any imposition of any requirements for them, to ease on the conditions. I looked at it that way as well.”
Javed also said that the congregation looked to the state leaders, as the congregation was too big to meet the regulations. “Closer to home, we are looking at the county director, and beyond that, we’re looking at the state director. And neither one of those meet our criteria, because our congregation would never fit into the ten number that has been designated so far,” he explained.
The mosque’s president also said that he didn’t think the president could easily override governors’ decisions, but the Islamic Center’s board of directors was already beginning plans to open. “I’m not seeing that as something where-like an executive order kind of thing-I don’t visualize that,” he said. “It’s good for us, because right now, the board of directors of the Islamic Center is already working on plans to open, which means they’re taking the steps: the signs have been sent out for printing the social distancing signs, temperature gauges have been ordered for people coming in, people are going to be designated at the front door to ask questions about where people have been, if they’ve been close to anybody who’s COVID-positive, and all that. All that is happening, and we happen to have a couple of physicians on the board of directors as well, and that is also facilitating that as well.”
Javed also explained that they would be ready if Cuomo hypothetically allowed places of worship to reopen sooner than later. “Let’s say the governor announces next Friday, because he’s opening up a lot of things next Friday,” he said. “Let’s say, ‘Okay, it’s going to be 50 people now.’ I think we could open with that for two of the five prayers, where we know the participation is less than 50 people.”