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No religious freedom for Kashmiris as India bans Friday prayers for 10th consecutive week

On December 15th, Friday prayers in Kashmir’s main mosque, Jamia mosque in Srinagar, were disallowed for the 10th consecutive week in a row.

The leader of the mosque and Kashmir’s prominent cleric, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, was also placed under house-detention on Friday. He was not allowed to leave his home to lead the prayers. 

Hundreds of Kashmiris who arrived at the mosque were sent back, with the placement of heavy militarization around the mosque. 

Since October, India has detained or placed under house arrest several Kashmiri political leaders, activists and clerics to prevent them from organizing pro-Palestinian demonstrations during Friday prayers. 

Well-known clerics have stated they have also been placed under house arrest, especially on Fridays, to stop them from leading congregational prayers at mosques and praying for Palestinians in Gaza.

Though the prevention of solidarity with Palestine is one important reason why the Friday prayers have not been allowed, its history is older.

For example, after abrogating the semi-autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir in 2019, India shut down the Friday congregation in Jamia mosque for more than 3 years. 

Jamia has historically offered itself as a space where Kashmiris gather and express themselves as a collective, and therefore, the occupying power has always maintained a totalitarian control over the mosque.

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