03 May 2017

Finnish minister says new 'grand mosque' plans could pose 'security risk'

Helsinki city council is deciding whether to green light plans for a large mosque complex in the Finnish capital which have led to fierce political debate.

Muslim community leaders first submitted the proposals for a ‘grand mosque’ - double the size of the city’s Lutheran cathedral - on an old industrial site two years ago, but the plans proved to be a hot-button topic in the Helsinki mayoral elections last month.

While the city is already home to several mosques, all but one are poky buildings with previous uses which have been converted.

The 1800 square metre ‘Oasis’ complex, to be built in a Moorish fashion, is billed as a community centre open to both the entire city’s diverse Muslim population as well as non-Muslims. The building - which would open in 2024 - would accommodate 1,200 worshippers at a time, and the grounds and gardens include a cultural dialogue centre.

The proposals were met with particular hostility when it emerged the $151 million (£117 million) construction would be funded by the monarchy of the Gulf state of Bahrain. [The Independent] Read more