POLITICS > Turkish PM insistent on giant mosque on Istanbul hill

Erdem Güneş / Vercihan Ziflioğlu ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News

Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan reiterates his comments on building a giant mosque on Istanbul’s Çamlıca hill, opening up a controversy with academics who say the mosque project is show-off

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No winners were announced in the design competition for the mosque. Two projects were given 2nd and 3rd places, with one being declared ‘applicable.’ AA photo

No winners were announced in the design competition for the mosque. Two projects were given 2nd and 3rd places, with one being declared ‘applicable.’ AA photo

Academic and Islamic circles have reacted to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s insistence on building a mosque on Istanbul’s Çamlıca Hill as part of a controversial project.

Erdoğan has forged ahead with plans for two controversial mosque projects in Istanbul, one on Çamlıca Hill and the other to be built in Taksim Square.

“The beauty of the [planned] mosque on Çamlıca Hill is not that obvious on the model. But it will be very beautiful, trust me,” Erdoğan told a group of journalists aboard a plane en route to the Spanish capital of Madrid from Ankara on Nov. 27.

The prime minister first proposed the idea of building a mosque on the top of Istanbul’s Çamlıca Hill May 29. “This giant mosque in Çamlıca was designed so as to be visible from all parts of Istanbul,” Erdoğan said at the time. However, his idea has continued to draw reactions from academic and political circles since then.

Archaeological concerns
Professor Afife Batur from Istanbul Technical University, who specializes in the architecture of the late-Ottoman and Republican periods, said the process was illegal from the start.

“We said it was an archaeological site, they removed the article regarding that area. We said at least do a proper project. They launched a project competition in an illegal way that we have never before witnessed in Turkish history," Batur told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday in a phone interview.

Competition to build a mosque
Üsküdar Municipality and a mosque-building association opened a design project immediately after Erdoğan’s announcement, setting a grand prize of 300,000 Turkish Liras for the winning design.

The competition drew 62 projects but ended without a first-place winner being announced. Two projects were given second and third places, with one of them being declared “applicable.”

According to the winning project, the mosque will occupy a nearly 15,000-square-meter plot and have the capacity to hold approximately 30,000 people.

İhsan Eliaçık, a religious author known for his critiques of capitalism, said the project reflects Erdoğan’s desire to build a “Sultan mosque” in Istanbul just like Süleyman the Magnificent and Mehmet the Conqueror did. “Turkey does not need even one small mosque since 110,000 mosques around the country are [now] empty,” Eliaçık said.

“Social justice should come first. There are only seven or eight poorhouses in an Istanbul of 17 million people.”

Yet the prime minister has claimed many of the criticisms were groundless.

“They say the green area will be ruined. There is no green area there already,” Erdoğan said, adding that a mosque would also be built in Taksim.


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Notice on comments

Tomas Giovanni

12/29/2012 7:40:35 AM

good-bye secular state and religion

Ken Alden

12/28/2012 6:46:05 AM

who is going to pay for thr costruction of the Mosque?

Plain Talk

11/30/2012 2:26:44 PM

Why not make this Mosque a "National Project" by establishing a Fund for voluntary contribution, by Rich and not so Rich contributions of all walks of life, and name the Moswue, "The National Dedication"Mosque", because God touches every Soul!

Ahmad Ali

11/30/2012 1:10:19 PM

Brit in Turkey, these buildings are not only meant for Tourists. In terms of Designs though, I would like to see a more futuristic design with much more openness using glass rather than concrete.

Eric Martin

11/29/2012 11:16:12 PM

Agree with Dogan kemal below. Government money shouldnt be used to build mosques. Pm Erdogan needs to be a politician , not an imam.

turkic voice

11/29/2012 10:28:47 PM

If this new mosque must be built, say for a monument befitting of the 20th century, I hope its designee reflects this. We are a nation of 99.9% Muslims, don’t forget.

Peter Lambson

11/29/2012 10:01:48 PM

Looks very Byzantine, but then most historic Turkish mosques do, since they are all based on Haghia Sophia.

american american

11/29/2012 9:16:46 PM

what happened to the 1st place prize?

Brit in Turkey

11/29/2012 6:44:26 PM

Some points come to mind. Which tourists will want to visit a brand-new mosque when there are so many beautiful old examples to see? This one on the hill seems to be far from any populated area, so who will be in its congregation? When the Blue (Sultanahmet) Mosque was built the story goes that there was a great fuss with Saudi because it had six minarets. That is likely to happen again. MAJORITY Retaining open space in cities is so important, European city centres have been planned around them.


11/29/2012 6:13:13 PM

Agnes you are kidding right ??? We dont need any more coup's, we had it all and its enough.. we need educated and open minded people to react and hold their rights... we definetly need more green areas, hospitals, parks and schools... I am not against building Mosques but we need to balance all that with other needs of people as well...
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