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Muslims Debate Gender Segregated Prayer Halls

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By Asma Khalid

A group of local Muslim activists gather at a library in Northeast D.C. to debate whether men and women should worship in the same prayer hall.

Marcus Allgood is at a townhall on gender relations in the mosque. Allgood wears a black prayer cap and explains during the Prophet Muhammad’s time men and women prayed in the same physical space. He’s disappointed with the current layout in many mosques.

"They have women in a separate room, somewhere off partitioned in the back. It reminds me of segregation, the separate and unequal type thing," says Allgood.

But one person’s segregation is another person’s privacy. Raabia Ahmed prefers praying in a separate room.

"I like to have that freedom to be in my own spot with the Muslim women where we can chat," says Ahmed."There’s women who wear niqab – face veil. They don’t want to be in a place where a man can directly walk in and see their face. That’s their personal preference."

The townhall did little to change individual opinion. The question of how to make everyone feel welcome is still up for debate.

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