First mosque opened on ruins of church in Venice


Venice (IINA) – Cannaregio neighborhood in the Italian city of Venice saw on Friday the opening of the first mosque in the city, which was built on the ruins of a Catholic church that was abandoned 40 years ago.

The new mosque was opened during the 56th Venice Biennale after several failed attempts by Muslim community to obtain a permit from the authorities to build a mosque in the city, where Venetian Muslims from 29 nationalities are living. 

The transformation is the work of a Swiss-Icelandic artist, Christoph Buechel, who has become known for politically barbed provocations. The mosque, which will serve as Iceland’s national pavilion during the Biennale, is a cultural symbol and a kind of ready-made sculpture conceived with the active involvement of leaders of the area’s Islamic population, which has been growing for many years. 

Venetian Muslims, as well as Muslim visitors to the city, will now be able to walk to Friday prayers instead of taking an hour-long trip to the nearest mosque, in the industrial heartlands of the Veneto mainland.

President of the Muslim Community in Iceland Ibrahim Agnarsson expressed delight for opening of the mosque, considering it as a success for the Muslim community in Venice. While praising the Ministry of Culture in his country’s support for the project, Agnarsson said the mosque would serve as a center to introduce Islam in the city. He said it was heartbreaking to see Muslims praying in cargo container in the past.

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