The Sweden Muslim Association in Gothenburg had to fight for 15 years to get a mosque. The plans have been ready for a long time. Now the money is coming from Saudi Arabia. Critics think the association is getting itself into a dependency situation.
Dressed in suits and ties, a delegation of four from the Saudi Finance Department enters the Muslim school Römosseskolan's hall in Angered outside Gothenburg. They have come to write up a contract with the Swedish Muslim Association.
"We want Muslims to have an official place to exercise their religious actions in Gothenburg. We don't want them to be in out of the way places," says Saleh al-Rechadi, director of the Saudi Finance Department.
"It feels incredibly good since we have waited for about 20 years now," says Bachar Gahnom, who has pushed for building the mosque.
The mosque at Hisingen will be the first in Sweden to be wholly financed by another state. Critics think that the Saudi government is buying influence over Gothenburg's Muslims and that the association is now choosing to land itself in a dependence situation.
The Saudi interpretation of Islam is considered severed and conservative.
But according to the association the Saudis have not demanded administration posts or a say in who will hold the important position of imam. The Saudis have, however, opinions on how the mosque shall be run.
"It isn't an absurd demand that the mosque will serve both Muslims and non-Muslims. This mosque will be a sort of official front for the Muslims in Gothenburg," says Bachar Gahnom.
Åke Sander, who works at Gothenburg University followed up the issue and he thinks that there's a schism between Gothenburg's Muslims. Among others the liberal and feminist Muslims are very skeptic about the Saudi money.
He says that many think that if the money comes only from them and not from anybody else, it will give them influence, he says.
Source: Swedish Radio (Swedish), h/t FOMI (Swedish)