Reykjavík city council told Fréttablaðið that they were optimistic that they can find a plot of land for Iceland’s Muslims to finally build a mosque, ten years after they first applied for such a plot.
As Grapevine reported, Iceland’s Muslim population – which numbered around 500 in 2006 – first applied with Reykjavík city council for a plot of land on which to build a mosque. However, no city council government on the right or the left, has ever approved their application. Meanwhile, other religious organizations – among them, the Ásatrú and the Russian Orthodox church – have seen their requests for plots approved.
Article 65 of the Icelandic constitution guarantees religious freedom, stating, “Everyone shall be equal before the law and enjoy human rights irrespective of sex, religion, opinion, national origin, race, colour, property, birth or other status.”
Mayor Jón Gnarr told the Grapevine earlier this year that “I don’t see the Muslims of Reykjavík building a mosque as being any sort of problem. They should have their mosque—we should enjoy total freedom of religion, and everyone should be free to worship according to their beliefs. I am not familiar with why they’ve had to wait for so long, but they hopefully won’t have to wait any longer. At least not if I have any authority on the matter.”
The Muslim Society of Iceland contacted city hall earlier this summer, wishing to meet about the matter. City director of planning Ólöf Örvarsdóttir told Fréttablaðið that they are optimistic that they could find a spot for a mosque to be built within the week. “There are a number of places that we find very exciting,” she said in part. She also added that there has always been a “political willingness” to find a plot for Iceland’s Muslim community.
Salmann Tamimi, chairman of the Muslim Society, told Fréttablaðið that he welcomed the news, and emphasized that “the mosque will not just be for Muslims. It will be an educational center for everyone, to come and check things out, to read and learn and erase prejudice which exists in our society.”
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