Finland: Now We Want a Mega-Mosque

In recent years, Muslims in Finland have been complaining about not having an official mosque. This is not entirely true; the Finnish Tartars have an official mosque with a minaret — in Träskända — which other Muslims are free to use. There are also around 80 small mosques in Finland, around 30 of them in converted buildings or private flats in Helsinki, although many of them are referred to as “prayer rooms”. One such mosque is the Masjid Iman mosque, located in Helsinki on the Munkkiniemen street. According to its website, the 214-square-meter mosque, which calls itself “The Islamic Multicultural Dawah Center”, was established in 1999 and is “one of the well-known mosques in the Helsinki area”. As is increasingly taking place, the mosque, according to the website, was formerly a church. The mosque boasts that it has been “able to organize many activities”. One of these, it says, “is to spread Islam to the non-Muslims in Finland”.

Now Muslims in Finland want a mega-mosque. Two years ago, a Finnish convert, Pia Jardi, spokesperson for the mega-mosque project, known as “Oasis”, said, “There is a need for a grand mosque because so far we do not have one in Helsinki. A mosque would signal to the Muslims that they are a part of society”.

Another board member of the Oasis project, Imam and then chair of the Islamic Society of Finland, Anas Hajjar, was less modest. In October 2015, he told Yle, a Finnish news outlet, “…the need for mosques in the capital region keeps growing… We need three mosques in Helsinki, and one in Esbo and one in Vanda”. According to Hajjar, the planned mega-mosque will be 20,000 square meters, but besides the actual mosque, there will also be sports and youth facilities. The actual prayer room will accommodate 1,500 people. Hajjar told Yle that mega-mosques, “prevent radicalization, as they make young Muslims feel like part of society”.

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