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Spain saves Saudis money, builds mosque itself

February 7, 2011

The big time mosques in Spain used to be bought and paid for by Saudi Wahhabists.  Ah, the good old days.  Now mosques are being funded by Spanish taxpayers, most notably in Barcelona.  In theory, the Barcelona project would help prevent extremism because their new mosque will not be Saudi-sponsored.  However, it is unclear what if any oversight role the city government would have in matters such as imam selection, approval of prayers or sermons, in requiring audits, or in monitoring the curriculum if the mosque includes a school.  Here are the highlights from a good Hudson New York article called “Spain Goes on Mosque-Building Spree” a month ago that missed our radar:

  • Barcelona “has agreed to shell out nearly $30 million in public funds for the construction of an official mega-mosque with a capacity for thousands of Muslim worshipers.”
  • “The idea to build a mega-mosque funded by Spanish taxpayers comes after Noureddine Ziani, a Barcelona-based Moroccan imam, said the construction of big mosques would be the best way to fight Islamic fundamentalism in Spain.”
  • “Ziani also said European governments should pay for the training of imams, which would be ‘a useful formula to avoid radical positions.’”  [This sounds identical to a new initiative in in Germany.]
  • “Saudi Arabia built the ‘great mosques’ in the Spanish cities of Madrid, Malaga, Marbella and Fuengirola, has been accused of using the mosques and Islamic cultural centers in Spain to promote the Wahhabi sect of Islam dominant in Saudi Arabia.”
  • “In Lleida, a town in northeastern Spain where 29,000 Muslims make up 20% of the population, the local Islamic association Watani recently asked Moroccan King Mohammad VI for money to build a mosque in the center of town.”
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