JNN 02 May 2014 Havana : The Cuban government has approved plans for the country’s first mosque after Turkey’s Religious Affairs Foundation (TDV) sent a delegation to Cuba to discuss building a place of worship for Muslims in its capital Havana.
Having paid a visit to the Cuban department of religious affairs, TDV assistant manager Mustafa Tutkun sought permission to begin work on the mosque, which will be designed after the famous Ortakoy mosque in Istanbul.
The mosque is being built to serve the city’s 3,500 Muslims and will be complete within a year, Tutkun said.
According to the plans, the Havana mosque will be 32,300 square feet and have the capacity to serve 500 people.
Land for the mosque has already been allocated in the city’s Old Havana district. Tutkun said that the design of Ortakoy mosque would fit in nicely with the architecture of the surrounding area.
Yuksel Sezgin, press adviser for Turkey’s Religious Affairs Foundation (TDV), added “We thought the mosque would fit perfectly in Havana’s historic district with the neighborhood’s European architecture.”
With no mosque available currently, most Cuban Muslims pray in their homes or, on Fridays, in the living room of Pedro Lazo Torre, the leader of Havana’s Muslim community.
Luis Mesa Delmonte, a Cuban professor working on Middle Eastern studies at El Colegio de Mexico in Mexico City, said that Cuba had been planning to build a mosque long ago using national resources, but turned to Turkey when it couldn’t find the funds to do so.
The plan is part of a wider project by the TDV in building mosques for Muslims who live in the Caribbean.
A similar project in Haiti is due to be complete by the end of this year.