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Slovenia building its first mosque

AFP-JIJI

Prime Minister Alenka Bratusek on Saturday laid the foundation stone for what will be Slovenia’s first mosque — 44 years after the initial request to build it was made.

The laying of the stone in the presence of a government minister from Qatar, which is helping to fund the project, was a “symbolic victory against all forms of religious intolerance,” said Bratusek, adding that Europe would not be as culturally rich without Islam.

Building will begin in November and should be finished by the end of autumn 2016. The cost of the project, which includes a Muslim cultural center, is €12 million ($16 million), 70 percent of which will be met by the Qataris. In a country with 2 million people, some 47,000 Slovenians declare themselves Muslim.

The first request to build a mosque in Slovenia was filed in 1969. In recent years the project has run into difficulty over the issue of land. Opponents of the mosque have twice tried to halt the project, once in 2004 and again in 2009, by asking for a referendum. The requests were denied each time by the constitutional court.