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Turkish PM insistent on giant mosque on Istanbul hill

Written By THA on Thursday, 29 November 2012 | 02:11

No winners were announced in the design competition for the mosque. Two projects were given 2nd and 3rd places, with one being declared ‘applicable.’ AA photo

Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan reiterates his comments on building a giant mosque on Istanbul’s Çamlıca hill, opening up a controversy with academics who say the mosque project is show-off

Academic and Islamic circles have reacted to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s insistence on building a mosque on Istanbul’s Çamlıca Hill in a controversial project.

Erdoğan has forged ahead with plans for two controversial mosque projects in Istanbul, one on Çamlıca Hill and the other to be built in Taksim Square.

“The beauty of the [planned] mosque on Çamlıca Hill is not that obvious on the model. But it will be very beautiful, trust me,” Erdoğan told a group of journalists aboard a plane en route to the Spanish capital of Madrid from Ankara on Nov. 27.

The prime minister first proposed the idea of building a mosque on the top of Istanbul’s Çamlıca Hill May 29. “This giant mosque in Çamlıca was designed so as to be visible from all parts of Istanbul,” Erdoğan said at the time. However, his idea has continued to drwa reactions from academic and politic circles, creating debate around the issue.

Archeological concerns
Professor Afife Batur from Istanbul Technical University, who specializes in the architecture of the late-Ottoman and Republican periods, said the process was illegal from the get go.

“We said it was an archeological site, they removed the article regarding that area. We said at least do a proper project. They launched a project competition in an illegal way that we never witnesses in Turkish history. ” Batur told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday in a phone interview.

Competition to build a mosque
Üsküdar Municipality and a mosque-building association opened a design project immediately after Erdoğan’s announcement, setting a grand prize of 300,000 Turkish Liras for the winning design.

The competition drew 62 projects but ended without a first-place winner being announced. Two projects were given second and third places, with one of them being declared “applicable.”

According to the winning project, the mosque will occupy a nearly 15,000-square-meter plot and have the capacity to hold approximately 30,000 people.

İhsan Eliaçık, a religious author known for his critiques of capitalism, said the project reflects Erdoğan’s desire to build a “Sultan mosque” in Istanbul just like Süleyman the Magnificent and Fatih Sultan Mehmet did. “Turkey is not in need of even one small mosque since 110,000 nationwide mosques are [now] empty,” Eliaçık said.

“Social justice should come first. There are only seven or eight poorhouse in 17 million populated Istanbul.”
Yet the prime minister has claimed many of the criticisms were groundless.

“They say the green area will be ruined. There is no green area there already,” Erdoğan also said.” Erdoğan said. Erdoğan also said a mosque will be built in Taksim.
(Erdem Güneş / Vercihan Ziflioğlu
ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News)
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