Switzerland: Plans to build Europe's largest Islamic center

The Swiss capital, Bern, could host Europe's largest Islamic cultural and economic center if a project by local Muslim associations is approved, organizers said Monday.

The 23,000 square meter (27,700 square yard) "platform for Islam" would include a congress center, a four-star hotel, a museum, offices, and a mosque, said Farhad Afshar, a Bern university professor and spokesman for Islamic organizations involved in the project.

"We want to show the wealth of Islamic culture in Switzerland by presenting its many facets,' Afshar explained.

"The offices could house trading companies that deal with Islamic nations," he added.

Marco Ryter, a Swiss architect dealing with the feasibility study, estimated that the center would cost between 60- and 80 million Swiss francs ($50- and $66 million).

The center could be financed by pension funds or private investors and a foundation set up in Switzerland, Afshar said.

The land earmarked for the center is part of a 34-hectare (84-acre) area on the northern outskirts of Bern which is being redeveloped and city authorities are studying a variety of building projects.

There are about 311,000 Muslims among the 7.5 million strong Swiss population, according to official statistics. Most of them are originally from the Balkans.

Source: Middle East Times (English)

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