Once again the controversy over a Mosque Muslims and others would like to see built in the town of Tromsø in Norway is making the news. The Mosque, which is planned to be built in a “Norwegian Style” have been promised funding from a private Saudi sponsor. Rather than a symbol of an integrated Norwegian Islam, many feel this is an example of Saudi Arabian Islamic mission. Representatives of Saudi Arabia say they’re not involved in the planned mosque, and that they do not want this affair to jeopardize their good relations to Norway.
Tromsø has approximately 1000 Muslims. There a three main Muslim organizations in Tromsø. The Al-Nor congregation led by Sandra Maryam Moe and her husband Andrew Ibrahim Wenham with 296 registered members (2009). There is also the Islamic Center of North Norway (ISSN) lead by Mohamed H. Hassan and Hassan Aidiid. 2009 ISSN counted 480 members. Then there is also a Muslim Student organization called Islam Net Student (ISN) with about 20 members.
Foreign minister Jonas Gahr Støre (Ap) speaks against the planned mosque and says he wants to hinder Saudi Arabia’s plans to sponsor it. He thinks it is absurd that Saudi Arabia can sponsor a Mosque to be built in Norway, when Christian congregation’s aren’t allowed to establish them self in Saudi. Støre says he’ll take the question to the European Council.
But there are also prominent voices positive to the project. The popular Lutheran priest Stig Lægdene says it’s not more than right Tromsø’s Muslim get to build a proper Mosque, and one should not care where the money comes from. Norway has one of Europe’s largest missionary churches, he says. So what the Saudi’s are doing in Norway now, we have been doing for a long time in the rest of the world. And what’s the alternative, he says. Are we to give them the money to build a Mosque?
And Arild Hausberg, who is chairman of Arbeiterpartiet (Ap) says he is positive to the Mosque. “It strikes me these are good people,” he said after meeting Sandra Maryam Moe and Andrew Ibrahim Wenham of the al-Nor congregation.