Brno’s Mosque Marks 25 Years Since Its Construction
The mosque on Brno’s Videnska is celebrating 25 years since its construction this week. Credit: RuM, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
Brno, Oct 3 (CTK) – The mosque on Brno’s Videnska is celebrating 25 years since its construction this week, with a series of events and lectures to mark the anniversary. In his lecture yesterday to open the Brno Mosque Week, co-founder Muneeb Alrawi said that from the very beginning, the mosque has sought to bridge worlds and build good relations with neighbours and the public.
The Brno Mosque Week runs through to Sunday, when an open day will be held.
When Brno’s Muslims planned to build the first mosque in the Czech Republic in the 1990s, they had no idea how many obstacles they would have to overcome, said Alrawi, an Iraqi who heads the Brno Islamic Foundation and the Czech Union of Muslim Communities. They did not anticipate the protests and media interest that the prayer house project would encounter.
In the early 1990s, Brno’s small circle of Muslims met for prayers every Friday in a rented basement room, and later they met somewhere else. This first triggered the idea of constructing a new building. Young Muslims, mainly students, then bought a cheap plot of land on 251 square metres near Videnska.
When the public and journalists learned about the plan, petitions and demonstrations broke out against the mosque. Some of the neighbours also had reservations about the construction, but eventually the tensions calmed.
The mosque has long been the destination of excursions by high school and university students. From time to time, Alrawi said, companies turn to the Muslim community for advice on how to succeed in markets in Islamic countries. Brno Muslims also helped diplomats rescue Czech Television reporter Michal Kubal and his two fellow journalists after they were kidnapped in war-torn Iraq in 2004, Alrawi recalled.
Over the past 25 years, the mosque has not escaped criticism, for example due to the content of some of its sermons which became public. There have also been attacks on the mosque, such as broken windows, a facade doused with oil and threatening graffiti.
According to the 2021 census, 5,244 people in the Czech Republic stated their religion as Islam, nearly 2,000 more than a decade earlier. However, reporting one’s religion on the census is not compulsory. Experts estimate the total number of Muslims in the Czech Republic at between 10,000 and 20,000, most of them from traditionally Muslim countries. Only a small proportion are Czech converts.