On Thursday April 15th 2010 a large majority of the members of the city council of Copenhagen voted yes to a district plan which will allow a traditional Shia mosque to be built in Copenhagen. It will be the first purpose build mosque in Denmark. Only the members of Danish People’s Party voted no, while the members of the Liberals and one Iranian born member of the Red-Green Alliance didn’t vote. The question about allowing the mosque to be built has created a heated debate and Iranians living in exile in Denmark have demonstrated against the passing of the district plan because they suspect the Iranian government of funding the mosque. Ahlul Bait, which is the organization behind the mosque, says the funding comes from private donors in Iran and fund raising in Denmark.
The site where the mosque will be erected already houses a mosque. However the current mosque is established in an old warehouse and the new mosque will be constructed as a traditional mosque with two minarets and a blue cupola. The purpose of the minarets will only be decoration and they will not be used for calling for prayer.
For several years it has been the plan to build a 124,000 square meter complex containing shops, apartments, a kindergarten, a hotel and a Sunni mosque in Copenhagen. There are currently more than 50 local prayer rooms and Islamic centers in Denmark, but no purpose built mosque. Despite protests in the form of a 6,000 signature petition and threats made against a Copenhagen architecture firm that had drawn up designs for the mosque, the city council approved a district plan for a mosque location on Amager in Copenhagen.
The city council has appointed the Muslim Council of Denmark as the official partner in the project. The council is an independent umbrella organization representing 13 different Muslim organizations and up to 40,000 members, and will be responsible for the financing and operation of the new mosque. The Council will work together on the project with the Bach Group, which purchased the building site in 2005 and will be responsible for building the complex.
The Bach Group and the municipality of Copenhagen have agreed on the outline of the complex. The next step is that the municipality prepares a district plan which will be discussed in a public hearing this autumn. If the district plan is approved the construction can begin in spring 2011. However the project lacks funding. Zubair Butt Hussain, spokesman for the Muslim Council of Denmark said that there will be some challenges in raising funds, but the organization hopes to remain independent of donors when it comes to the running of the mosque.
The Danish architecture firm BIG has designed the complex and the mosque. Photos of the proposed complex with the mosque can be seen here: