Istanbul Municipality rejects objections to mosque on Büyükada
Fatma Aksu – ISTANBUL
HDN PhotoThe Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality has allowed for the construction of a mosque on the seafront of the biggest and most touristic island of Istanbul’s Princes’ Islands, after rejecting an objection of its members from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).
On the request of the Istanbul mufti’s office, the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality had the last say on the proposed area, which is defined as a “housing and trade” area on Büyükada, the biggest of the Princes’ Island and a summer resort for Istanbul residents.
In May 2014, an area on Büyükada located close to the pier was formally changed to a “religious facility area” by the municipal council. Council members from the CHP objected to the decision, but the council did not approve their rejection.
The Istanbul Greater Municipality council decided to build a mosque on the island with a majority of votes, thanks to members of the council from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
The Adalar Municipality, the Chamber of Architects, and an association protecting the islands’ culture and natural assets, objected to the decision to build the mosque, due to be named the “Çarşı Cami.” However, a majority of the members of the Istanbul Greater Municipality rejected the objection of the CHP members of the council and allowed the construction of a mosque in the island.
In its objection, Adalar Municipality said another mosque is unnecessary, citing the seven already existing mosques on Büyükada as well as other religious places of worship.
“There are eight monasteries, 16 churches, two synagogues, and seven mosques on the islands. There is no need for another mosque. An area of around 1,000 square meters is needed for a small mosque, but the area where the mosque is planned to be built has an area of only 465 square meters, which is not enough to build a religious worship place,” said the Adalar Municipality in its objection to the Istanbul Greater Municipality.
It also highlighted the restaurants serving alcoholic beverages near the area, which would be legally obliged to stop serving alcohol if a mosque is built there.
A council member from the CHP, Esin Hacıalioğlu, said in her objection that the mosque was not included in the construction plans of the Adalar Municipality.
“Istanbul Metropolitan Mayor Kadir Topbaş has always criticized interventions in Istanbul from Ankara, but now the Istanbul Greater Municipality is intervening into the Adalar District Municipality,” Hacıalioğlu said.