As a home of prayers, marriages, social gatherings, and even funerals, mosque serves as a focal point for the Muslim communities worldwide.
Therefore, a growing Muslim population in Launceston in Tasmania’s north have been calling for a new mosque to host their prayer in the “unmosqued” city.
“When we came here, the first thing we asked was if there was a community center – a mosque where we could go and meet people,” Mostafa Seleem, a Muslim who moved from Brisbane to Launceston two years ago, told ABC.net.
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Saleem is medical specialist working at the Launceston General Hospital, and his wife, Mariam Eissa, is an electrical engineer.
The couple, who have four children, believe that their new home is a great place to raise their kids. The only problem is the absence of the mosque.
“When we heard there wasn’t [a mosque in Launceston], it was devastating news,” he said.
Tasmania’s Islamic population has been growing recently. According to the Tasmanian Muslim Association, the Muslim population has more than doubled since the last census in 2016.
But the state has only one mosque, which is in Hobart.
“When we came here, the kids started to ask when we would visit the mosque,” Eissa said.
The Muslim community came closer to realization of their mosque dream when the Islamic Community in Launceston signed a contract for a building in Kings Meadows, which they hope will soon become the region’s first mosque.
“One of the major reasons people would want to come and stay permanently, particularly highly skilled people, is if there was a community centre,” Seleem said.
“The local community would finally have a place where they can meet, greet, socialize and talk to each other – a place where they can belong to.
“The Muslim community has great values, great people and a lot to offer.”
Fundraising is now underway to pay for the building and hope to see the mosque open before the end of the year.
“I keep going for a drive around the building with the kids and show them what will be the mosque, and they can’t wait until it’s open,” Eissa said.
Australia Muslims make up 2.6% of the population of 26 million, according to the last census in 2016. This was up from 2.2% in the 2011 census.