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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » April 7, 2010
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Muslims Divided Over New Mosque
April 7, 2010   
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A new Muslim Culture Center in Warsaw is expected to be completed this summer, but the project has divided Poland's Muslim community, with some arguing the site by a shopping mall is not suitable for a place of worship.
The three-story building with an 18-meter minaret, scheduled for completion in late August or early September, will house a mosque, a library with a multimedia room and an art gallery.
The center, next to the Blue City shopping mall in the capital's Ochota district, will be open to all Warsaw residents, not just Muslims.
The project was launched five years ago by two Warsaw-based organizations, the Muslim Cultural Society in Poland and the Muslim League in Poland. The latter, founded in 2001 by Polish Muslims, now has around 180 members, most of whom are immigrants from Arab countries. The chairman of the League is Dr. Samir Ismail, who lives and works in Poland. He says the new mosque is a response to the growing number of Muslims in the Warsaw area, which he estimates at around 11,000.
Diplomats from Arab countries are helping to pay for the construction of the mosque, including the ambassador of Saudi Arabia Nasser Albreik, as well as benefactors from Poland.
It will be the fifth mosque in Poland and the second in Warsaw. The other Warsaw mosque is located on Wiertnicza Street and belongs to the Muslim Religious Community, a member of the Muslim Religious Union in Poland. The organization is not involved in the Muslim Culture Center project and does not want to be associated with it. Tomasz Mi¶kiewicz, the mufti of the Muslim Religious Union in Poland, has voiced doubts about the project and its location, arguing that it is not suitable for a place of religious worship.
However, another Muslim in Warsaw, of Iranian origin, says there is nothing wrong with a building mosque near a shopping mall, arguing that the location will ensure the mosque and the Muslim Culture Center are accessible both to Muslims and non-Muslims.
Samir Ismail of the Muslim League points to the multicultural aspect of the project. "Our goal is to build bridges, establish contacts and cooperation and benefit the Polish public," he told the TVP Info public television channel.
Designed by the KAPS Architekci studio, the Muslim Culture Center will combine Middle Eastern and European architecture.
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