Turkey to build mosque in Romania in exchange for land for a church

EBRU ŞENGÜL
ISTANBUL
Published

Turkey will undertake the construction of a large mosque in Bucharest, Romania, which is to be completed within three years. Under an agreement signed between Turkish and Romanian authorities, Turkey in turn will allocate land for the construction of a church by Romania in Istanbul.

The mosque was on the agenda of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who paid a visit to Bucharest in April. The two countries reached a deal to speed up plans for the construction of the mosque. The mosque, which will be built in an area of 13,000 square meters, will have a capacity of 2,000 people. The Romanian government approved the allocation of the land for 49 years for mosque building in one of the central districts of Bucharest. The mosque will address the needs of some 100,000 Muslims living in the Balkan country, as it will also house a complex with a library, a Quran teaching school and recreational facilities. It will have the characteristics of Ottoman-era architecture.

Bucharest already has 10 buildings used as mosques, but the new site will be the first genuine mosque, while the others were mostly buildings converted into mosques.

Turkey's Presidency of Religious Affairs (DİB), which oversees mosques in Turkey, has already undertaken construction of more than 100 mosques around the world with construction ongoing in 38 different locations.

Turkey is widely embraced by Muslims around the world after the government improved the country's relations with Muslim countries and Muslim populations around the world in an effort to boost its soft power. The DİB is involved in the construction of mosques from the United States to Somalia, from Russia to the Philippines. The Bucharest mosque is not the only mosque in the Balkans built by Turkey. In May, President Erdoğan laid the foundation for what is touted as the Balkans' biggest mosque in Tirana, Albania. That mosque will have a capacity of 4,500 people. Apart from the construction of new mosques, Turkey, through the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA), repairs old mosques in the Balkans.

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