New debate stirs on mosque construction in eastern Istanbul

New debate stirs on mosque construction in eastern Istanbul
(Friday, November 20, 2015) 02:10

Constructing a considerably large mosque in the heart of Istanbul’s Asian side is among the plans published by Turkey’s urbanization ministry, with a local municipality official saying the area in question is technically not convenient for construction.

The plan to construct a “grand mosque” right by the sea in Istanbul’s Kadıköy district was brought to the table upon demands of the Prime Ministry, the Presidency of Religious Affairs and the Istanbul Mufti’s Office, daily Hürriyet reported.

The Environment and Urbanization Ministry has listed the construction plan of a “grand mosque” among its future projects, with the plan showing an area currently used as a car park near the Kadıköy sea bus pier as the area considered for the mosque’s construction.

The fate of the area in question was left to the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (İBB) on June 7, 2005, upon an agreement between the İBB and the Finance Ministry.  

According to a reconstruction plan dated Oct. 8, 2012, the 34,000-square-meter area being considered for the mosque’s construction was stated to be a partly green area, or “breathing space.”

A significantly large part of the area was created by landfilling, which has drawn criticisms by officials both from the İBB and the Kadıköy District Municipality.

“Constructing a mosque on an area created by landfilling is inconvenient in geological terms,” said Hüseyin Sağ, an assembly member both in the İBB and the Kadıköy Municipality. 

Kadıköy Mayor Aykurt Nuhoğlu slammed the construction plan made upon demands of the Ankara-based governmental bodies and noted that any construction plan within the borders of Kadıköy should be proposed by consent of Kadıköy residents.

“This totally is a political decision,” said Nuhoğlu, adding that there were already a number of mosques around the area in consideration.

The Kadıköy mosque debate comes a year after the attempt to construct a mosque next to a huge grove named “Validebağ” in the neighboring district of Üsküdar despite an opposing court ruling. The construction drew sit-ins and demonstrations, as well as angry reaction from different walks of life late 2014.

Validebağ, located in the middle of a large residential area on the hills of Üsküdar, has long been a protected area due to its historical importance.

Local activists braved inclement weather all day and night for more than a week to force officials to comply with the court ruling to suspend the construction of the small mosque.

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