The Fatih Mosque in Amsterdam opened its doors to more than 1,000 non-Muslim visitors this year during the annual Night of Museums.
Visitors to the mosque, which is affiliated with the Turkish Diyanet Foundation (TDV), received information about Islam, mosques and Islamic arts.
"The Dutch are very curious about the religion of Islam and the internal structure of our mosque,” said Kemal Gözütok of the Fatih Mosque. "They want to learn everything from the shoe cabinet to the minbar, from the mihrab to the tiles,” he told Anadolu Agency (AA).
The construction of the mosque was completed in 1890 for secret meetings of Dutch socialists and was later purchased by the Jesuit Order. The Jesuits, affiliated with the Catholic church, demolished the old building in 1927 and built a church.
The predominantly Protestant and atheist population of the Netherlands led to the church's lack of congregation and money in 1971. The building was used out of purpose for 10 years. The Fatih Mosque, built in 1927 and converted from a church that was closed due to a lack of worshippers, was purchased by Turkish workers who came to Amsterdam in 1980 to meet the need for a place of worship.
The building was converted into a mosque in 1981 and was connected to the Dutch Religious Foundation in 1986.
A visitor who gave his name as Charn from the U.S., said that although he lived very close to the mosque he came for the first time: "I liked the interior of the mosque very much. The voices of the imams were great.”
Another visitor, Jaap Kapteyn, cited the importance of participating in the Night of Museums as a mosque and promoting Islam with art activities and works. "This affects the perspective of the Dutch - who value art very much - about Islam.”
"It is a very good way to combat Islamophobia in the Netherlands,” he added.
The Night of Museums, or the Long Night of Museum, is a cultural event across Europe since 2005 in which museums and cultural institutions stay open late to introduce themselves to new potential patrons. Visitors wishing to discover the museums are given a common entrance pass that grants them access to all exhibits as well as complimentary public transportation within the area.
The first event, Lange Nacht der Museen in German, took place in Berlin in 1997. In 2005, the Council of Europe, UNESCO and the International Council of Museums joined to promote this event to improve access to culture as the event was hailed by many art goers.