Manchester Muslims Struggle to Establish First Mosque

August 21, 2006

Source: Union Leader

On August 21, 2006 the Union Leader reported, "To the wider community, Darwish Darwish's mosque is something of a secret. It isn't listed in the Yellow Pages. Nor is there a sign to advertise its existence. Those who need it simply know to let themselves through the tall white gate at the head of Darwish's driveway, to remove their shoes in the foyer and to walk upstairs for prayer. Darwish, 57, had not planned on opening his own house of worship when he and his family left Boston seven years ago. The family chose for its new home a two-story Victorian on Chestnut Street, a heavily trafficked residential block just off Manchester's downtown strip. Darwish liked it because it was quiet, and because it was a short drive from his job at Office Max, where until recently he worked as a manager. There was, however one thing missing: a mosque. In fact, Darwish soon found there wasn't so much as one stand-alone mosque in the entire state of New Hampshire. 'It was bad,' said Darwish, who spent most of his life in Egypt before moving to the U.S. in 1995. 'I can't live without prayer.' For years now, Muslims across New Hampshire have been making do without a place to call their own. In Darwish's case, the temporary solution was to convert his old detached garage, a former barn, into a communal prayer hall. Muslims in other parts of the state, such as Concord and Laconia, have made their own arrangements. Many of them are waiting for the state's leading organization for Muslims, the Islamic Society of Greater Manchester, to complete its long-delayed plans for a $2 million mosque on Manchester's east side."