The Muslim community in Melbourne has celebrated fifty years on the establishment of the city’s oldest mosque, hosting a street festival and airing the call to prayer for the first time.
The event, hosted by the Albanian Australian Islamic Society (AAIS), approximately four thousand (4,000) people in attendance. This included honorable dignitaries, members of the Albanian and Muslim community, local neighbors and the wider Melbourne community.
“The celebratory event which was open to all was a true example of the AAIS’s mission ‘To preserve the Albanian Muslim identity and promote harmony, mutual understanding, and co-operation among other communities in Australia’,” AAIS president Urim Balla said in a statement on Facebook.
The event started with a beautiful recitation of verses from the Holy Qur’an by AAIS Imam Dr. Bekim Hasani. The Hon. Richard Wynne MP, Minister of Multicultural Affairs, then officially opened the festival.
Speeches were then made by Mayor Danae Bosler – Yarra City Council, State MP for Melbourne Ellen Sandell MP (Greens), Dr. Hajdin Abazi (Ambassador of Kosovo) and AAIS Imam Perparim Sulaj.
Kids were offered street activities that included craft shop, an animal farm, and a jumping castle. Meanwhile, adults enjoyed henna design, and hijab & props photo station.
In the middle of the day, the adhan, or Muslim call to prayer, was made in public from the mosque’s minaret for the first time.
The adhan was made by AAIS Secretary Amet Balla from the Mosque’s Minaret.
“With emotions high and many tears to be seen, this was a historical moment that many will cherish forever,” AAIS president wrote.
The day also included AAIS Volunteers guiding groups of attendees through a tour of the Mosque, many of which had never entered a Mosque before.
The majority of people were keen to learn more about Islam, as well as the Albanian Mosque and wider activities of the Society.
According to the 2016 Australian Census, the number of Muslims in Australia constituted 604,200 people, or 2.6% of the total Australian population, an increase of over 15% of its previous population share of 2.2% reported in the previous census 5 years.