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8495Islam and Muslims in Montenegro: Montenegro Ancient Mosque Back to Life

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  • Zafar Khan
    Feb 2, 2008
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      Montenegro Ancient Mosque Back to Life
      By Hany Salah, IOL Correspondent
      Fri., Feb. 01, 2008

      http://www.islamonline.net/english/news/2008-02/01/02.shtml

      PODGORICA, Montenegro — Montenegro's Muslims are
      working on rebuilding the Balkans country's oldest
      mosque, which was brought down almost eight decades
      ago.

      "Preparations are underway to reconstruct the
      Marinareve mosque," Omer Halil Kajshaj, foreign
      relations chief at the Islamic Sheikhdom in
      Montenegro, told IslamOnline.net.

      Built in the resort city of Ulcinj off the Adriatic
      Sea, the mosque was established by Muslim Arab sailors
      in the fourteenth century.

      The ancient mosque was demolished in 1931 by Serbian
      authorities at the time to obliterate any Islamic
      feature of Ulcinj.

      Kajshaj will rebuilt in its original design and
      architecture.

      "It is part of the Sheikhdom's efforts to maintain the
      Muslim identity at Montenegro," which gained
      independence from Serbia in 2006, added the Muslim
      activist.

      He said the Sheikhdom is already building another
      grand mosque in the heart of Ulcinj and the first
      Muslim secondary school in the capital Podgorica to
      meet the growing religious needs of the Muslim
      minority.

      "This mosque will accommodate 1,000 worshippers,"
      noted Kajshaj.

      Had it not been for the incumbent secular government,
      these Muslim projects would have not come into being.

      "Our relationship with authorities are just perfectly
      fine. They gave us the historical land of the Ulcinj
      mosque and proved forthcoming in issuing necessary
      permits to rebuild it," Kajshaj explained.

      There are 26 mosques in Ulcinj, mostly based at the
      city's suburbs and villages.

      Muslims make up 20 percent of Montenegro's 630,500
      population.

      Challenges

      Kajshaj appealed to Muslims to donate to rebuild the
      Ulcinj mosque as soon as possible.

      "Building another mosque in central Ulcinj, the
      Sheikhdom cannot alone undertake this mammoth effort,"
      said Kajshaj.

      The rebuilding is estimated to cost in the region of
      600,000 euros.

      "We have opened a bank account and welcome any
      donations," added Kajshaj.

      Opposition from local businessmen is another challenge
      facing the Ulcinj mosque.

      "Local businessmen want to build a hotel at the
      mosque's site because the area is a picturesque
      tourist attraction," said Kajshaj.

      "Authorities are standing by us but at least for the
      time being and no body knows whether future
      governments would throw a spanner in the good work,"
      he warned.
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      More about Montenegro at:
      http://www.islamawareness.net/Europe/Montenegro/