While the North Pole’s landscape may evoke images of igloos and barren snow fields, the crescent moon and minaret will soon vie for their place in Norway’s Arctic thanks to a Saudi businessman’s donation to build the region’s first mosque.
A Saudi businessman has donated 20 million Krone ($2.78 million) to build the first mosque in the Arctic region, near the northern part of Norway, according to a news report published by a local Saudi newspaper.
In April the Muslim association in the Arctic town of Inuvik, Canada raised $40,000 to purchase land for a mosque two degrees above the Arctic Circle that it hopes will serve the Northwest Territories’ 175 or so Muslims (according to a 2001 census).
Shams newspaper reported that the Saudi businessmen, who was not identified, donated the money to the Islamic Council of Norway, which represents about 70,000 of Norway’s estimated 130,000 Muslims, during a meeting in London with Sandra Mary Moo, a member of the Norwegian Muslim community.
Islam is the largest minority religion in Norway with more than two percent of Norway's 4.7 million residents identifying as Muslims, according to a 2007 Statistics Norway report. The government report registered 79,068 members of Islamic groups in Norway, mostly from immigrant backgrounds.
Talks between the Muslim community and the Northern Municipality of Norway are underway to secure land for the construction of the mosque in an area of 1000 square meters (about 11,000 square feet).
The mosque is expected to be the largest in the northern parts of Norway.
(Translated from Arabic by Marwa Awad)