Copenhagen, January 01: The lack of funding is hindering Danish Muslims’ dream of the first Sunni mosque in the capital Copenhagen.
“Lack of funding is hampering our efforts to buy a plot of land in Copenhagen to build our mosque,” Abdel-Hamid Al-Hamdi, chairman of the Islamic Council of Denmark, told.
Copenhagen city council agreed in 2006 to allow Muslims to build their first mosque in the capital.
“The city council offered 12 plots of land for Muslims to pick up one to build the mosque,” Al-Hamdi recalls.
Muslim leaders chose a 5,000-cubic-meter piece adjacent to two Muslim-populated areas of the capital worth nearly $5 million.
“It will cost nearly 10 million dollars to build the mosque and an Islamic center,” said Al-Hamdi.
Funding is also standing as a stumbling bloc for building a mosque in Arhus, Denmark’s second-largest city.
“Muslims are unable to fund the mosque construction as lands in Denmark are the most expensive in the world,” notes Sheikh Radwan Mansour, the head of the Arhus Cultural Society.
In 2006, the city council agreed to allow Muslims to build a mosque in the city, but the dream has since not come true.
Denmark has a Muslim minority of nearly 250,000 out of its 5.4 million-strong population.
Islam is the country’s second largest religion after the state-run Lutheran Protestant Church.
Denmark’s relations with the Muslim world strained after a Danish daily published in 2005 cartoons lampooning Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him).
“To apologize for Muslims, Denmark found the best answer in allowing Muslims to build mosques in the country,” said Al-Hamdi.
“The only obstacle for us now is the funding to buy the land and build the mosque,” he asserted.
“This is a major challenge to all Muslims. The world is watching and the ball is now in our court.”
Danish Muslim leaders toured a number of Gulf countries to raise funds for the mosque plan.
“We only got promises,” said Al-Hamdi. “Nothing more has happened since.”
The Muslim leader warned that failure to act now would play into the hands of the anti-Islam far-right.
“What happened in Switzerland could repeat itself in Denmark,” Al-Hamdi said, referring to last month’s Swiss ban on the building of mosque minarets.
He cited an attempt by the right-wing Danish People’s Party (DPP) to ban the building of mosques in the Scandinavian country.
“Though the government has rejected the attempt, the DPP is now trying to push it through parliament.”