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The Biggest Mega-Mosque in Scandinavia

by Soeren Kern

Construction crews in Copenhagen have raised Denmark’s first minaret — a 20 meter (65 foot) tower-like structure that will alter Copenhagen’s low-rise skyline — as the finishing touch on a colossal project to build the biggest mega-mosque in Scandinavia.

Construction of the minaret, which was finished on September 3, marks the final phase of work on Denmark’s first-ever purpose-built mosque, situated at Rovsingsgade Street in Nørrebro, a heavily Islamized district in northwestern Copenhagen.

The so-called Grand Mosque, which will cater to Sunni Muslims, is massive by European standards. The complex covers 6,800 square meters (75,000 square feet) and will house a domed mosque, a restaurant, a cinema, classrooms, offices, a community center for the elderly, childcare facilities, a playground and more, in what is being billed as the largest “real” mosque in Scandinavia.

 

An illustration of the Grand Mosque of Copenhagen.

 

The mosque has only been possible thanks to a 150 million kroner ($26 million) donation by the former ruling Emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, which has led critics to voice concerns that the mosque will become a mouthpiece for radical Islam.

In an interview with the Copenhagen-based daily newspaper Berlingske on August 5, Copenhagen City Council member Lars Aslan Rasmussen said, “Gifts like these from Qatar are not free and I am worried that Muslims in Denmark risk becoming radicalized and pushed even further from the society that they should be a part of.”

Rasmussen added that the 25,000 member Danish Islamic Council (Dansk Islamisk Råd) — a Muslim umbrella group that is building the mosque — belongs to the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE), which has close connections to both Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

“I am sure that they will end up preaching an ultra-conservative interpretation of Islam,” Rasmussen said. “I am disappointed that Denmark’s first big mosque will represent this interpretation of Islam. They have the right to open the mosque, but I think that their connections to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas are deeply problematic.”

Rasmussen’s concerns have been echoed by another member of the Copenhagen City Council, Flemming Steen Munch, who says, “It is clear that we must give more thought to the fact that Qatar, where Islam is practiced so rabidly, has invested so much money in a mosque in Denmark. We should be concerned about radicalization and should keep a close eye on what is going to happen in that mosque.”…

….Some observers warn that the threat of Islamic extremism in Denmark is not limited to the mega-mosques that are being funded by Qatar and Iran.

During a talk at the Danish Free Press Society on August 22, Ahmed Akkari — the man who organized the 2005 Mohammed cartoon riots and who now admits he was wrong to do so — said: “The truth is that there is not a single mosque or Muslim organization in Denmark that is not run by Islamists. As soon as you enter the house of the believers, you are met with Islamism whether you want it or not. As soon as you become a devoted Muslim, you are infected by extremism.”

In the words of Lene Kühle, a scholar at the Center for Contemporary Religion at Aarhus University who has written a book about Islam in Denmark, the race to build mega-mosques in Denmark is sending a very clear message: “There are Muslims in Denmark, and they are here to stay.”

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