Istanbul mayor says mosque construction near protected grove to continue
Local activists had been braving the inclement weather day and night for more than a week to force officials to comply with a court decision to suspend the construction of a small mosque next to the grove. DHA PhotoThe relief of local activists after the mosque construction in Istanbul’s protected Validebağ grove was halted has proven short-lived, with Mayor Kadir Topbaş announcing that the court order for a stay of execution had been reversed following the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality’s appeal.
“We appealed the court decision at the 7th administrative court of Istanbul, which lifted the suspension ruling. Now it has become [legal] to build the mosque,” said Topbaş, vowing to proceed with the construction on the Asian side of Istanbul.
“The land in question is outside of Validebağ grove. We have to comply with the court decisions,” the mayor added.
Local activists had been braving the inclement weather day and night in vain for more than a week to force officials to comply with a court decision to suspend the construction of a small mosque next to the grove. However, construction had been ongoing under tight security measures, as riot police and water cannon trucks were deployed to the area.
Lawyers representing the activists said they will appeal the reversal of the stay of execution. Activists claim that the municipality plans to use the mosque, located just outside the grove, as a first step to opening the grove area to more construction by lifting its protected status and turning it into a park.