Saudis To Donate To Mosque Build, News To Icelandic Muslims - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Saudis To Donate To Mosque Build, News To Icelandic Muslims

Published March 6, 2015

Nanna Árnadóttir
Photos by
forseti.is

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has pledged 135.5 million ISK to the construction of the Icelandic mosque, reports RÚV.

The Saudi Ambassador to Iceland, Ibrahim S. I Alibrahim, made the announcement yesterday in a meeting with Icelandic president, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson.

The pledge however, is news to the Muslim Society of Iceland.

“We knew nothing about this,” Salmann Tamimi, former chairperson and founding member of the Muslim Society of Iceland told Vísir. “We would never accept gifts from a state that does not respect the human rights of its people, that violates them and supports terrorism in the Middle East.”

Meanwhile the currently reigning chairperson of the Muslim Society of Iceland, Ibrahim Sverrir Agnarsson, insists no decision has been made on the issue, since no one from the Saudi government has actually been in touch with them or made any such offer.

Approximately 300 million ISK is needed to construct the mosque which has been a contentious topic in Iceland for the past year.

In Iceland, recognised religions are entitled to plots of land to build houses of worship, but in the final run up to Reykjavík’s municipal elections last year, Sveinbjörg Birna Sveinbjörnsdóttir of the Progressive Party said she wanted to withdraw the allocation of the plot of land to the Muslim Society of Iceland and that the issue should be voted on in a public referendum.

When faced with accusations of xenophobia, Sveinbjörg insisted she was simply questioning the “free plots of land” law in general.

Several members of the Progressive Party quit in light of her comments and she was met with criticism from both her own party as well as many others. Sveinbjörg did not win the mayoral race.

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