Albania: New Mosque Plan Catches Muslims Off Guard

Albania: New Mosque Plan Catches Muslims Off Guard

Via Eurasia Review:
"The announcement was a bombshell," said Elvis Naci, imam of Tirana's Tabakeve mosque, adding that the council of the Muslim Community had yet to discuss the proposal and express an official position.

Speaking before the Eid celebration, Tirana Mayor Edi Rama said the municipality had a work plan ready to construct the new mosque behind the National Opera.

"The new mosque is needed by the Muslim community, which, like the two other faiths, merits its own house of worship in the centre of the capital," Rama said.

A day later, the Minister of Transportation, Sokol Olldashi, suggested that Rama’s announcement was campaign politics, related to upcoming local elections due in May 2011.

Olldashi accused the mayor, who is also leader of the opposition Socialists, of deceiving people. The city centre plan designed by the French Architecture Studio, which the municipality had approved, did not include a mosque, he pointed out. "Behind the Opera two towers are planned, which...don’t look like minarets," Olldashi noted.

The city council retorted by saying that the minister was "only throwing mud at the mayor."

The request to build a mosque in the centre of Tirana has been a perennial demand of the Muslim community since the fall of the Communist regime in Albania in 1991.