Riga reacts to Muslims praying in public

Salah, the Muslim prayer, is an obligatory religious duty for every Muslim. Latvian Television's Forbidden Methods looked at how Latvians react upon seeing Muslims pray in public. Even though passers-by didn't object, the employees of the shopping malls they were praying in didn't find their behavior acceptable. 

The Salah player has to be observed at prescribed times depending on when the sun rises. It can be observed anywhere, whether it be a parking lot or a mall.

Be that as it may, the Forbidden Methods experiment showed that praying in public can cause problems in Riga, which might be troublesome in the long run as the Latvian capital does not have a mosque as of yet.

Two people started praying in a quiet corner of the Domina shopping mall on an early Sunday afternoon. Many passed them by without paying too much attention, while others seemed surprised but didn't engage them in any way.

To discover what the employees of the mall think of it, the team went to the information stand and reported seeing something unusual. A security guard came and asked the two to leave, threatening to call the police and saying the mall is not a fit location for prayer.

The believers left for another supermarket where they repeated their prayer, sparking similar reactions from the passersby. An employee came with a security guard, and asked the genuflecting pair to explain themselves. 

"You can't do that here, you are scaring our visitors," the manager said, asking them to leave.

After some arguing, representatives of the center called the police who asked them to follow them. The security guard said that if it weren't Sunday they'd have to evacuate the whole shopping center. The receptionist at the information desk was furious, saying that they did it on purpose, to spark a reaction.

"[..] Damn it, you know we're an EU country. You come to a public space and simply start doing this... nonsense," she said.

The police did not detain the praying pair, though they did check their IDs, saying they received a call and they were forced to react to it. 

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4 comments
Andrew
How about a mosque for Riga then? If people want to congregate in buildings and talk to an invisible man in the sky then that's just fine. There is some beautiful mosque architecture out there too.
Janis
Cultural sensitivity is a two way street, and if you are going to flop down to the floor in the middle of a public space to pay reverence to the magic man in the sky in a country where it's not culturally acceptable to randomly do so, I guess you can expect a confused reaction. Just the same if a Pentecostal started speaking in tongues, or a devote of Opus Dei starting flogging themselves in public. It would be nice if people kept their religious expressions to private/secluded spaces. That being said, Latvian society has an insane fear of Muslims that is truly frightening.
Tom Schmit
With respect - this took place in a mall or plaza, not stores. If they had been inside of Prizma or Kebab Fix in Domina, they would have been in stores.
Lauris (LSM)
Hi Tom, you are absolutely right. Thank you for pointing this out, the piece has now been updated.
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