Algeria inaugurates Africa’s largest mosque after years of political delays and cost overruns

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Cars drive past the The Djamaa El-Djazair, or Algiers Great Mosque on Feb 21 in Algiers. Begun in 2012, the Great Mosque of Algiers boasts a giant 265 meter (290 yard) minaret and a capacity for 120,000 faithful. (AP)

ALGIERS, Algeria, Feb 26, (AP): Algeria inaugurated a gigantic mosque on its Mediterranean coastline Sunday after years of political upheaval transformed the project from a symbol of state-sponsored strength and religiosity to one of delays and cost overruns.
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 meters). The third largest mosque in the world and largest outside Islam’s holiest cities, its prayer room accommodates 120,000 people. Its modernist design contains Arab and North African flourishes to honor Algerian tradition and culture as well as a helicopter landing pad and a library that can house up to 1 million books.
The inauguration would guide Muslims “toward goodness and moderation,” said Ali Mohamed Salabi, the General Secretary of world union of Muslim Ulemas.
Propagating a moderate brand of Islam has been a key priority in Algeria since government forces subdued an Islamist-led rebellion throughout the 1990s when a bloody civil war swept the country.
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.
Beyond its gigantic dimensions, the mosque is also known for the delays and controversy that characterized the seven years it was under construction, including the choice of site, which experts warned was seismically risky. The state denied that in a news release Sunday posted on APS, the state news agency website. Throughout the delays and cost overruns, the project never stopped feeding Algerians’ anger, with many saying they’d rather have four hospitals built throughout the country.
The project’s official cost was $898 million.

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