Algeria Inaugurates Africa’s Largest Mosque: Great Mosque of Algiers

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Ceremonies were held for Algeria’s massive mosque, poised to welcome worshippers during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

After years of political unrest, Algeria has opened the largest mosque in Africa on its Mediterranean coast, despite political setbacks and budget overruns.

According to World Union of Muslim Ulemas General Secretary Ali Mohamed Salabi, the inauguration on Sunday will lead Muslims “toward goodness and moderation.”

The mosque was officially opened by Algerian President Abdelmajid Tebboune, who kept his commitment to do so with much fanfare and ceremony.

However, the major purpose of the occasion was ceremonial. For around five years now, the mosque has been accessible to both foreign visitors and state guests staying in Algeria. There was a postponed ceremony previously.

                       

The schedule enables the mosque to formally open to the public in time for the nightly prayers that will take place during the next Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The Great Mosque of Algiers, which was constructed in the 2010s by a Chinese construction company, has the tallest minaret in the world, standing at 869 feet (265 meters). The $898 million project cost was the official figure.

With a prayer space that can hold 120,000 people, it is the largest mosque outside of the holiest cities of Islam and the third-largest mosque in the world. In addition to a helicopter landing pad and a library with the capacity to hold a million books, its modernist architecture honors Algerian tradition and culture with flourishes from the Arab and North African cultures.

In addition to its enormous size, the mosque is well-known for the controversies and delays that dogged its seven years of construction, including the site selection, which seismic experts cautioned was dangerous.

Former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was the one who originally envisioned the mosque, intending for it to be the biggest in Africa. Like the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco, he named it “Abdelaziz Bouteflika Mosque” because he wanted it to be his legacy. Once recognized as Africa’s largest mosque, it was named for the erstwhile King of Morocco, Algeria’s neighbor and regional competitor.

The demonstrations that erupted in Algeria in 2019 however, and forced Bouteflika to step down after two decades in office, prevented him from carrying out his intentions, naming the mosque after himself, and holding the planned February 2019 opening.

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