A three-day fundraiser for the construction of a new mosque and community centre in the Belgian city of Sint-Niklaas ended with a record 1.8 million euros on the counter.
The event was organised by the Moroccan Cultural and Islamic Centre in Belgium.
The current building of Mosque El Houda in Sint-Niklaas has become too small to accommodate the growing Muslim community in the city, according to the Moroccan Cultural and Islamic Centre.
“The permit to construct the new building had been obtained by the Centre in May of 2014, but getting around the finances was quite a task,” said President Ahmed Haarouch of the Moroccan Cultural and Islamic Centre .
With this “unexpected” amount of money, the demolition of the current building is set to start this week, and the construction of the new mosque will start at the end of May.
When finished the new Mosque El Houda will be one of the largest mosques in the country.
It was a poignant moment for some 500 Moroccans who were at the mosque when the three days’ event ended on Sunday night. Many of them were moved to tears.
“This is an important investment for future generations.” said Younes Ouchan who is a representative of the mosque.
“Sint-Niklaas is the perfect example of a warm and diverse society. We want to promote dialogue and warmth in our society, and exile all radical and extremist elements”, Mr Ouchan added.
In addition to religious, cultural as well as community events, the new mosque will accommodate and estimated 600 students who will learn the Arabic language and Islam, according to the Moroccan Cultural and Islamic Centre.