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Scotland Western Isles Crowdfunds Its First Mosque

STORNOWAY – The Western Isles on Scotland western coast is set to get its first mosque with a JustGiving crowdfunding webpage set up over the weekend to fund the worshipping house.

“Amongst the 8,000 people of Lewis Isle, there is a very small Syrian refugee community. They have been trying for a long time to get planning permission for a mosque,” Aihtsham Rashid, a construction businessman from Leeds, the UK who created the fundraising webpage told Press and Journal.

“Against all odds, they have now been granted permission to build.”

Local media reported in February 2017 that four Muslim Syrian families, including eight adults and ten children, had been resettled in Stornoway town in the Isle of Lewis, after joining two other Muslim Syrian families, who had been resident since 2016.

“I have been personally requested to go up and help them with the build and planning of the very first mosque due to my experience in building mosques. I am aiming to get this mosque up and running by Ramadan to enable the local Muslims to perform their first Taraweeh prayers,” Rashid explained.

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Nearly £2,000 has been raised for the project so far, however, it still needs £50,000.

“This job requires a lot of financing which the locals can’t afford being such a small community of Muslim refugees,” the British Muslim businessman said.

Most Muslims in Scotland are members of families that mmigrated in the later decades of the 20th century. According to the 2011 census, Muslims population is around 76,737 persons, almost 1.4% of Scotland’s population.

The first Muslim known to have been in Scotland was an Indian medical student who studied at the University of Edinburgh from 1858 to 1859.

Muslims in Scotland are an ethnically diverse population. Although a majority of Muslims are of Pakistani (58%) origin, 16.8% are Africans and Middle Eastern, while 7.8% are White Europeans.

Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow, has the highest Muslim population in the northwestern European country with 5% according to the 2011 census. Though, Pollokshields and Southside Central are the wards with the highest concentration of Muslim residents – 27.8% and 15.7% respectively.

The most important Scottish mosques are the capital city’s Edinburgh Central Mosque, in addition to Glasgow Central Mosque, Aberdeen Mosque, and Dundee Central Mosque.