Algeria inaugurates Africa’s largest mosque: Great Mosque of Algiers

Algeria has unveiled Africa’s largest mosque on its Mediterranean coast, overcoming political delays and cost overruns after years of political upheaval.

The inauguration on Sunday would guide Muslims “toward goodness and moderation,” said Ali Mohamed Salabi, the General Secretary of the World Union of Muslim Ulemas.

Algerian President Abdelmajid Tebboune inaugurated the mosque, fulfilling his promise to open it with great pomp and circumstance.

The event, however, was mainly ceremonial. The mosque has been open to international tourists and state visitors to Algeria for roughly five years. An earlier ceremony was delayed.

The timing allows the mosque to officially open to the public in time to host nightly prayers during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins next month.

A monument of controversy and delay

Built by a Chinese construction firm throughout the 2010s, the Great Mosque of Algiers features the world’s tallest minaret, measuring at 869 feet (265 metres). The project’s official cost was $898 million.

The third largest mosque in the world and the largest outside Islam’s holiest cities, its prayer room accommodates 120,000 people. Its modernist design contains Arab and North African flourishes to honour Algerian tradition and culture as well as a helicopter landing pad and a library that can house up to 1 million books.

Beyond its gigantic dimensions, the mosque is also known for the delays and controversy that characterised its seven years under construction, including the choice of site, which experts warned was seismically risky.

The mosque was originally a project of former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who designed it to be the largest in Africa. He wanted it to be his legacy and called “Abdelaziz Bouteflika Mosque” much like Mosque Hassan II in Casablanca, Morocco. That mosque, named after the former King of Morocco — Algeria’s neighbour and regional rival — was once marked as Africa’s largest.

However, the protests that swept Algeria in 2019 and led him to resign after 20 years in power prohibited Bouteflika from realising his plans, naming the mosque after himself or inaugurating it in February 2019 as scheduled.



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