Two Muslim societies in Iceland, the Association of Muslims in Iceland and the new Islamic Cultural Center of Iceland, have applied for lots in Reykjavík to build a mosque. City authorities have requested that the mosque be a joint project between the two associations.
Reykjavík City Hall. Photo by Páll Kjartansson.
“Obviously we won’t be allocating two lots for mosques at this point and we find it natural for them to cooperate on the construction of one mosque,” Páll Hjaltason, chairman of Reykjavík City’s Urban Planning Council, told Fréttabladid.
The Association of Muslims in Iceland, which has been operating for 13 years, has applied for a lot to build a mosque for the last nine years.
“There have been all sorts of problems. Part of it is that Reykjavík City doesn’t have many lots suitable for mosques and that is still the case although we are trying to solve it,” Hjaltason explained.
Hjaltason told Stöd 2 that he is not in favor of granting free lots to religious associations for places of worship, but since Reykjavík City promised Muslims a lot years ago, along with the Russian Orthodox Church, the Buddhist Association and Ásatrúarfélagid, the pagan society in Iceland (all of which have already received a lot), the promise must be kept.
Einar Páll Tamimi, the lawyer representing the Association of Muslims in Iceland, claims that the city authority’s demand that they build a mosque in cooperation with the Islamic Cultural Center of Iceland is in violation of administrational laws.
“City authorities have allocated lots for houses of worship for Christian congregations without demanding that different Christian associations cooperate on the use of these lots and it is clear that different demands shouldn’t be made of Muslim associations,” Tamimi stated.
In the application of the Islamic Cultural Center of Iceland, which recently bought the Ýmir music center in Reykjavík, it appears to be wrongly stated that Muslims have already received a lot for a mosque.
It says that the chairman of the Association of Muslims in Iceland, Salman Tamimi, cannot accept that both associations received the same lot.
“Of course the lot will go to all Muslims in Iceland and not only some of them and this has been hard to swallow for the individual in question,” vice-chairman of the Islamic Cultural Center of Iceland, Karim Askari, wrote in the application.
The two associations have been in dispute, with Salman Tamimi accusing the Islamic Cultural Center of Iceland of extremism, a claim which the association protested harshly against, visir.is reports.
Salman Tamimi claimed that there are individuals within the Islamic Cultural Center of Iceland who were expelled from the Association of Muslims in Iceland for having violated the association’s regulations on extremism, fanaticism and aggression in the name of religion.
In a declaration, Tamimi’s statement is denied. It says that the individuals in question were not expelled but rather decided to leave the association on their own accords due to “undemocratic work methods.”
The Association of Muslims in Iceland was founded 13 years ago and has 370 members, while the Islamic Cultural Center of Iceland was founded two years ago and has 250 members.