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LOCAL >Istanbul’s giant mosque to be ‘women-friendly,’ architects say

ISTANBUL

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Istanbul’s planned Çamlıca Mosque will be a "female-friendly mosque," according to its two female architects, Bahar Mızrak and Hayriye Gül Totu, who have a budget of around 150 million Turkish Liras for the project.

The new mosque, which will be the largest in the history of the Turkish Republic, will use “positive discrimination for women,” said Metin Külünk, the construction engineer and president of the mosque’s foundation.

“There will be a separate place for women to perform ablutions and an elevator to take them to where they can pray. Women will also be able to use a convenient childcare room,” Külünk told Anadolu Agency.

Intended for a 3 hectare area in the Üsküdar district of Istanbul, the Çamlıca Mosque will also include a special area for the disabled, a platform from where visitors can observe prayers, an Islamic art gallery and museum, a library and a car park for 3,500 vehicles. A tunnel will also be constructed between the mosque and the nearest residential area to allow more people to reach it and avoid traffic congestion, according to daily Cumhuriyet. The three-kilometer-long tunnel will connect Çamlıca Hill and Libadiye Crossing, and was discussed in a recent Istanbul Greater Municipality meeting.

The municipality council’s members from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) refused to discuss the tunnel proposal,while the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) members voted “yes.” The project will soon be voted on by the municipality.

Yunus Can, a municipality council member from the CHP, told daily Cumhuriyet that congestion will be inevitable at the entrances of the tunnel and it will not be prudent spending for the common good.

The controversial mosque, which is seen as one of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's signature projects, has been widely criticized for its location atop the green Çamlıca Hill and for being an incredibly large project that does not appear to fill a need for locals in the area. The project managers have said they want the mosque to be seen from most parts of the city and also say it will have the highest minaret.

Meanwhile, in Denmark, a female-friendly mosque is also planned to be built in the country’s second-largest city, Aarhus. Construction will begin in 2016 if the local municipality agrees on “a decent location for the mosque,” said the project’s Turkish architect, Metin Aydın.   

He said the mosque’s design was a combination of Ottoman Islamic architecture and the local traditions of Denmark and Scandinavia.     

Facilities at the mosque will include a separate prayer space for 600 women in the central hall and services such as a car park and playground for children that will “create the possibility for more women to go to the mosque.”

Recognizing that traditionally more men visited mosques than women, Aydın said "we want to change this; we want women to be equal in terms of having the possibility of going to mosques."

Planning began in 2000 and since then all locations put forward for the 3,000 square-meter space have been turned down by the Aarhus Municipality, said Aydın, claiming that the only obstacle they faced was "political."

“The mosque in Aarhus will belong to all Muslim men and women, because the community here includes people of very different origins: Turkish, Danish, African, Middle Eastern, Kurdish and people from the Balkans.”

The building will cost approximately 6 million euros.

November/14/2014

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