Row rekindled on Taksim mosque
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Proposed by architect Ahmet Vefik Alp, the mosque project is expected to be built in an area near the French Consulate General in Taksim, which is currently used as a parking lot.An Istanbul court has stirred debates after it ruled in favor of plans to build a mosque in Istanbul’s Taksim Square and rejected a non-governmental organization’s demand to cancel the plan.
While urban planning chambers criticized the municipality for using religious values in politics, the Istanbul municipality refused to answer the Hürriyet Daily News’ questions.
“It is clearly understood that any debate sparked around religious issues makes profit on the political scene. It is not ethical at all to justify a wrongly placed structure just because it will be a sacred space when it is completed. This is against science, law and even religion itself,” Eyüp Muhçu, chairman of the architects’ chamber told the Daily News in a phone interview yesterday.
Changing nature of Muslim population
The courts ruling said a mosque in Istanbul’s central square was now a necessity, due to the changing nature of the Muslim population which has occupied it during the first years of the Republic.
“There is an obvious need for mosques in Taksim [as] people were forced to pray on the streets on Fridays. The project would have no negative effects on the public,” the court’s statement read.
The Chamber of City Planners previously filed a lawsuit, asking for the cancelation of the project on the grounds that it would damage the historical identity of the square. Muhçu said the court’s reason that there was a crucial need for a mosque in Taksim Square was not reflective of the truth.
The courts’ ruling, which read that the Muslim population in the neighborhood had increased after the first years of the Turkish Republic, was not a subjective issue, Muhçu said.
He added that the public administration could not decide on such a topic.
“There is a mosque already on İstiklal Avenue, [known as] Ağa Mosque. The reasoned decision says the Muslim population in the neighborhood increased. This is not objectivity, either a shopping mall or a house of worship; to build something new in Taksim Square is not in the general interest for society.”