“We are open to everything and we practice freedom of religion here in Jukkasjärvi,” said Yngve Bergqvist, CEO of Icehotel, to local paper Norrländska Socialdemokraten (NSD).
Every year the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi, in northern Sweden, builds a church in pure ice that is later gifted to the Church of Sweden during a service on Boxing Day.
The ice church has proved a successful way to reach out to the community and draw in a new crowd. According to NSD, 150 couples from all over the world are married at the church yearly.
Imam Mahmoud Aldebe told the paper he is now hoping that an ice mosque could have the same effect on Islam in the country.
“It’s not actually such a controversial idea. It has been received well with everyone we have spoken to,” Aldebe said.
That the mosque would be placed in the same area as the church does not constitute a problem, according to Aldebe.
“It would be a new way of seeking dialogue between different cultures and religions. Perhaps an imam could be there and tell tourists and other visitors what it means to be Muslim,” Aldebe told NSD.
According to Bergqvist, the project would not be aimed at drawing in a new crowd of visitors, but rather to increase the value of the experience for the existing target audience.
“We have visitors from all over the world and many come from places like London or Saudi Arabia. We thought it might be a fun idea, seeing as we already have an ice church,” he told the paper.
It was hoped at first that the project could get underway this year, but according to Bergqvist the ice mosque would see the light of day by next winter at the earliest.
“We are looking into it and it was overly ambitious to believe we could get the project underway this year. We shall see what the future will bring,” Bergqvist told the paper.