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Building set to start on Saudi-funded Mosque

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Building set to start on Saudi-funded Mosque
Photo: ArkitektStudion
19:17 CET+01:00
Designs for a Saudi-funded landmark mosque in Gothenburg have received the final go-ahead from Muslim leaders in the city, meaning building can start next spring.

The new mosque, to be built in the Hisingen area, will include a 25-metre minaret. When the building is completed in 2009 it will bring to an end more than fifteen years of waiting for the city's Muslims.

The Gothenburg-based architect behind it, Björn Sahlqvist, says the minaret will be reminiscent of a "lighthouse from Bohuslän county," and will "lead and demand attention."

The government of Saudi Arabia has contributed 44 million kronor of the 50 million kronor cost of building the mosque.

Ahmed Mohammed, who is on the board of the Swedish Muslim Foundation (Sveriges Muslimska Stiftelse), told The Local that members of the Muslim community in Gothenburg would have preferred to have funded the building from within the country.

"We sought funding first from our members and then applied for loans from authorities in Sweden, but there was no money available," he said.

The ultra-conservative Wahabi brand of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia has meant that some liberal Muslims in Gothenburg have been sceptical towards accepting Saudi money.

But Mohammed insisted that the Saudi authorities would not have control over the running of the mosque.

"They have not made any demands. Also, it was not them who sought us out - we went to them."

Mohammed said that the only requirements from the Saudis were that the mosque should be "welcoming to Muslims and non-Muslims."

Saudi authorities have been accused in other countries of funding extremist literature. A report last week by the UK's Policy Exchange think tank claimed that "most of the extremist literature" in British Mosques is "published and distributed by agencies linked to the Saudi Arabian government."

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