A photo of the Ahmet Hamdi Akseki Mosque in Ankara that shows a group of children playing with toys in a special area went viral a few days ago, and more initiatives will be undertaken to increase the number of child-friendly mosques across Turkey.
Families that visit the Ahmet Akseki Mosque for Tarawih prayer, a voluntary prayer observed during the holy month of Ramadan, can now find play areas to use and enjoy their time. The mosque is situated near a service building operating under Turkey's Presidency of Religious Affairs (DİB) and hosts between 50 and 100 children, as they accompany their parents for Tarawih prayers.
Mansur Sağır, the mosque's muadhdhin, who calls the daily prayers, said that Ahmet Hamdi Akseki Mosque is just the first step of a project that will make such facilities more common in the near future. "We have not yet met any negative feedback. While parents observe prayers, their children can either play here or accompany their parents during the prayer. What we are trying to do is make mosques more child-friendly. Children make new friends here and play together. The mosque draws people from remote districts," Sağır said.
Ahmet Yasin Faslı, a small child visiting the mosque, said that he comes from Ankara's Yenimahalle Neighborhood and quite likes the play area. Yağmur Buruk is another child that comes to the mosque with her parents. Her father Bahri said that the new facility shows great thinking.
In the past, child and female-friendly mosques were not very common across Turkey. Many mosques used to offer worshippers, especially women, secluded, stuffy and segregated quarters with their children. This was mostly because more men made use of the mosque and therefore got priority, while many women's needs were overlooked. But a younger generation is now arguing that mosques should be equally accessible for both sexes. Newly constructed or renovated mosques like the Çamlıca Mosque or Marmara University's School of Theology Mosque in Istanbul are more female-friendly. In the near future, child-friendly mosques are expected to become widespread around Turkey.