Muslim bikers want to ride from Utrecht to Mecca

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The first ever bike club for Muslims in the Netherlands is gaining grounds quickly; initiator Iza Ghoula says he has received some 300 new members since he started. “My mailbox is exploding.”

Ghoula (34) who hails from Utrecht, started the Muslim Motor Club in the summer. “I had no idea it would go this hard. We thought we would start a fun club with some 30 people, but we’re getting people from all over the Netherlands and Europe who want to become members,” he said. “My inbox is exploding and people from all over are calling me; I don’t know who’s giving them my unlisted number.”

He continues: “The funny things some of the people who want to sign up don’t have a motorbike license or even a motorbike yet, but they want to be part of this. They have a good feeling about us, about being free; that you may be what you want as a Muslim.”

The intention is just to ride and then eventually make the hadji, the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. “The prophet said religion should not be forced; everybody is welcome. We stop when it’s time to pray. And if you’re a member of our club and you don’t want to pray because you’re not Muslim, that’s ok too. We respect each other and everybody is welcome,” said Ghoula.

He said that apparently there was a need for a club that offered this. “Not just among Muslims; we have Dutch members, a Chinese …”

There’s also room for women it seems. “It’s been so busy with registrations that we haven’t really been able to pay a lot attention to that yet. Women riders is a bit more sensitive, but we’re thinking about a special day for those who want to ride. Or a day when their husbands, brothers or fathers can take them along,” he said.

Ghoula said for now the club is just working through the flood of registrants. “That will take us through January. The enormity of it all surprised us too.”