No moon in Iquique, Chile

Just going through the moon sighting reports on this page (it may still be giving virus warnings when you try to load it; it doesn’t affect me as I use Linux) and one negative sighting is very notable:

Not Seen: Muhammad Sohail (MCW member) from Iquique reported: I have not seen the moon for Ramadan; I started looking for the moon from 18:25 upto 19:25. The sky was quite clear. So, Ramadan will satrt on Aug 12, 2010.

Iquique is in northern Chile, and this is one of the first places on any continent that the new moon is visible each month. The actual first place is further south, in the Valparaiso area on the Chilean coast.

So, if it’s not visible, in a clear sky, on the coast of Chile, how can it possibly be visible in Saudi Arabia, where a sighting was reported (and then broadcast on satellite TV)? And why are Muslims all around the world jumping when the Saudis say so, when they have no need to let the Saudis influence them? Some of these places (e.g. Taiwan) are east of Saudi Arabia, so a sighting there has no bearing on visibility in their own countries.

In the UK, the so-called “Coordination Committee of Major Islamic Centres and Mosques of London” agreed that Ramadan began today. This outfit represents a mere handful of mosques, such as Regent’s Park, East London, Westbourne Park, al-Muntada and Leyton (and since when was Leyton a major mosque?). In reality, it represents mosques with either a substantial Arab worshipper base, a “salafi” bias, or with connections to the Gulf countries. While they happen to be some people’s local mosques, the majority of mosques in London don’t belong to it and they have no right to claim any greater importance than any other mosque.

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