Europe's largest mosque opens in Chechnya

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Moscow, Oct 18 (UNI) Europe's largest mosque, named after Chechnya's late President Ahmad Kadyrov, was inaugurated in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya.

The ambitious project was the brainchild of Kadyrov.

On the eve of the lavish ceremony yesterday, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visited the mosque. Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, son of Ahmad Kadyrov, and representatives from 28 countries also participated in the opening ceremony.

The inauguration ceremony coincided with an international conference, ''Islam - a Religion of Peace,'' today.

Many of the international dignitaries would attend the three-day meeting, along with more than 170 religious figures from Russia's regions.

The mosque also known as the ''Heart of Chechnya,'' is part of a major Islamic centre that includes a clerical administration, an Islamic institute, a religious library, a hotel and a students' dormitory.

The centre covers an area of 14 hectares in Grozny. Up to 10,000 people can offer prayer at a time in the mosque.

''I hope that the complex will become a beacon of faith, safeguarding the national and religious traditions of the Chechen people, and that the mosque itself will become a symbol of the long-awaited peace and spiritual re-emergence of the republic,'' the Grand Mufti of Chechnya, Sultan Mirzayev told RIA Novosti news agency.

The walls of the mosque are decorated with the finest travertine marble and white marble, emblazoned by Turkish artists with paints that will last for 50 years. The verses of the Quran are rendered in gold.

The construction of the mosque started in late 1980s, although it was frozen during the conflicts of the 1990s, resuming briefly at the end of the decade when Ahmad Kadyrov was the republic's Grand Mufti. Construction started again in April 2006 and the mosque was completed earlier this month.

UNI XC RJ NS1753

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