BUCHAREST – Romanian Muslims’ plan of constructing a grand mosque in Romania’s capital Bucharest has been hit with a pitiful setback due to lack of funds.
“The costs were way bigger than the current budget of our institution and that the Muslim community can currently afford,” Mufti Iusuf Murat said, without elaborating further, Eurasia Review reported on Thursday.
Murat was speaking on behalf of the Romanian Muftiyat, which represents Muslims in the country.
He added that the Muslim body has filed a request to the Ministry of Culture to return the property assigned to the planned mosque to the Romanian government.
The mosque plan started in 2015 when Romania’s government, led by then Prime Minister Victor Ponta, signed an agreement with the Turkish government to build the largest mosque in south-eastern Europe in Bucharest, with a capacity to hold 2,000 people.
The project was scheduled to be inaugurated by the end of 2017 and was to include a library, a Koranic teaching school, and recreational facilities.
In exchange, Romania was to build a church in Istanbul.
In July 2017, however, Turkey’s ambassador to Bucharest Osman Koray Ertas told Romanian journalists that Ankara would not insist on concluding the project if it threatened bilateral relations with Bucharest.
Muslims are few in number in Romania. Official statistics say there are only 64,000 out of a population of 19.5 million.
Most are ethnic Turks and Tatars living in the Dobrogea region of eastern Romania. About 10,000 to 20,000 are more recent immigrants.
Approximately 10,000 Muslims live in Bucharest.