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Megamosques in Europe

Megamosques in Europe

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Published by Vienna1683
From Belgium to Greece and Spain to Germany, 2013 is shaping up to be another banner year for the construction of mosques in Europe.
From Belgium to Greece and Spain to Germany, 2013 is shaping up to be another banner year for the construction of mosques in Europe.

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Published by: Vienna1683 on Apr 05, 2013
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Published on Friday, 05 April 2013 05:45Written by Soeren Kern
"In Spain there are signs that Islam will dominate once again."
Hizrat MirzaMasroor Ahmad, Spiritual Leader, Ahmadiyya Community, Spain
From Belgium to Greece and Spain to Germany, 2013 is shaping up to be another banner year for the construction of mosques in Europe.In Belgium, work is about to begin on the construction of a mega-mosque in Liège, the third-largest city in the country. The largest mosque in Wallonia (the French-speaking region of  Belgium) will be built on an 11,000 m² (118,000 ft²) plot and will consist of a main building with acapacity for 1,000 worshippers, a library, a cafeteria and several shops.Plans to build two 30 m (98 ft) minarets were scrapped after opposition from local residents. Thenew plan involves one 18 m (60 ft) minaret which will be automatically illuminated during calls toprayer.The mayor of Liège, Willy Demeyer (PS), banned a protest march against the mosque that was to have been held on March 30. "My role is to avoid excesses and problems of public order," he said.In Germany, Muslims in the northern city of Hamburg are converting theformer  Kapernaumkirche (Capernaum Church), a cultural heritage site, into a mosque.
 
 In the southern German city of Munich, local politicians are debating where to build a massivemosque complex known as the Center for Islam in Europe-Munich (ZIE-M). The 6,000 m² (65,000 ft²) mega-
project, which will cost an estimated €40 million ($51 million), is designed to be a key
strategic platform for spreading Islam throughout Europe.Speculation is rife that the Persian Gulf Emirate of Qatar will pay for the project, although theQatari Ambassador to Germany recently told the newspaper  
 that no finaldecision has been made.The citizen's movement Die Freiheit Bayern (Freedom Bavaria) organized a demonstration against the project in downtown Munich on March 24, but only 120 people bothered to show up.In Greece, which is effectively bankrupt
,the government has pledged to spend €1.1 million ($1.4
million) to build an official mosque in Athens for the city's expanding Muslim population. The mosque, which will be built on the former naval base in Votanikos,will be able to hold around 500 worshippers as well as hundreds more in an outdoor area.The Greek government agreed in September 2011 to pay for the mosque after an offer from the Turkish government to pay for it was rejected by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, and opposedby the Muslim community in Greece, which insisted that the Greek state pay for it.Samaras says he wants to establish a mosque in Athens -- the only capital in European Union thatlacks a state-backed place for Muslim worship -- in a bid to boost Greece's diplomatic hand vis-à-vis Turkey.An estimated 120 sites are illegally operating as mosques in Athens. These makeshift spacesserve an estimated 200,000 Muslims living in the city, many of whom are illegal immigrants fromAfghanistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Nigeria and Pakistan.In Thessaloniki, the 111-year-old New Mosque (which was once a museum and is now used as an exhibition hall) welcomed Muslim worshippers for the first time in 90 years on March 30. On theinitiative of the city's mayor, Yiannis Boutaris, the mosque opened its doors to 50 Muslims fromKomotini, a city in Thrace, a region of northeastern Greece.Komotini is home to a sizeable Muslim minority, which constitutes 45% of the city's population.Turkey's ambassador to Greece, Kerim Uras, said he expects Islam to have a higher profile inGreece in the future. He said the move to open the mosque was "a positive step in the rightdirection. We're expecting the rest to come. I hope Athens will also be a place where Muslims canpray."In Ireland, city planners in Dublin have given the go-ahead for the construction of asprawling mega-mosque complex that will cater to Ireland's growing Muslim population. The
massive €40 millio
n ($50 million) "Islamic Cultural Center" will be built on a six-acre site inClongriffin, a new and as yet unfinished suburb at the northern edge of Dublin. It will competewith another mosque complex in the southern suburb of Clonskeagh that also goes by the name"Islamic Cultural Center," a sprawling four-acre campus, financed by Sheikh Hamdan bin RashidAl Maktoum, the deputy ruler of Dubai.Rumors have it that the new mega-mosque at Clongriffin will be financed by Qatar, which recently
donated €800,00
0 ($1 million) to build a mega-mosque in Cork,the second-most populous city in Ireland.
 
 In Luxembourg, a Muslim group called Le Juste Milieu (LJM) is engaged in a fund-raising drive to
collect €1.8 million ($2.3 million) to purchase the ground floor of a building that currently houses a
makeshift mosque in downtown Luxembourg City. The building is mostly residential; localresidents are opposed to the mosque.The purchase is generating controversy because of concerns over how LJM will raise the cash itneeds. In August 2012, the German-language newspaper  
 reported that the Qatar was
paying €2.2 million ($2.8 million) to establish a mosque and madrassah [Islamic religious school]
that would cater to the 10,000 Muslims who have settled in Luxembourg.In Scotland, St. John's Episcopal Church in Aberdeen has become the first church in the UnitedKingdom to share its premises with Muslim worshippers.The church now welcomes hundreds of  Muslims praying five times a day in their building because the nearby mosque was so small thatworshippers were forced to pray outside.According to the rector of St. John's, Isaac Poobalan, "Praying is never wrong. My job is toencourage people to pray. The mosque was so full at times, there would be people outside in thewind and rain praying. I knew I couldn't just let this happen, because I would be abandoning whatthe Bible teaches us about how we should treat our neighbors."The bishop of Aberdeen, Robert Gillies, says that by handing over sections of the church to themosque, the church has accomplished "something of global significance on a local scale."In Spain, Muslims inaugurated a new mosque on March 21 in the northern Basque town of  Portugalete. The mosque has been resoundingly opposed by local residents, but city officialsapproved the building permit in order to "promote the integration of Muslims into the localcommunity."A recent study commissioned by the Basque government found that one in four Basques reject the idea of having a mosque in their neighborhood, and one in five do not want a Muslim as aneighbor.The Basque Country is home to more than 50,000 Muslims, 70 Muslim groups, two dozen officiallylicensed mosques and hundreds of unofficial Islamic prayer rooms and cultural centers. Muslimsin the Basque region, who hail mostly from Algeria, Morocco, Pakistan and sub-Saharan Africa,have become increasingly assertive in recent years.Residents of the Basque city of Bilbao are finding their mailboxes stuffed with flyers in Spanishand Arabic from the Islamic Community of Bilbao asking for money to build a 650 m² (7,000 ft²)
mosque costing €550,000 ($735,000).
 Until recently, the Islamic Community of Bilbao had the following statement posted on its website:"We we
re expelled [from Spain] in 1609, really not that long ago. … The echo of Al
-Andalus stillresonates in all the valley of the Ebro [Spain]. We are back to stay, Insha'Allah [if Allah wills it]."(Al-Andalus was the Arabic name given to the parts of Spain ruled by Muslim conquerors from 711until 1492.)In Valencia, the third-largest city in Spain, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community inaugurated a new mosque on March 29 -- which also happened to be Good Friday, the day when Christianscommemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary.

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