Mali Muslim football legend Frederic Kanoute is raising funds this Ramadan to help build Seville first purpose-built mosque in 700 years, BBC reported.
“I helped the Muslim community in Seville a few years back. At the time they were looking to safeguard their place of worship. I helped them to keep their temporary mosque,” recalled the former Sevilla striker.
Kanoute’s relation with the city’s temporary mosque dates back to 2007 when the landlord of a converted section of a building in the Ponce de Leon area of the Andalusian city was looking to sell, meaning evicting the Muslim community.
Kanoute’s generosity of $700,000 donation meant the Fundacion Mezquita de Sevilla remained a place of worship for him and other Muslims in the city.
“I played there for seven years, and as a Muslim the first thing you do when you arrive in a new city is you find a place to pray,” he said.
“The place I found was that mosque, that I call the temporary mosque, that is still there. I found a fantastic community that is shaped not only immigrants – as we always picture the Muslims coming from outside. It’s Spanish or second-generation converts. They’re Europeans, they’re from Andalusia too.
“They were born as Muslims, and there is a fantastic and beautiful mix between Moroccans, Algerians, Senegalese, Malian, and it was just like a beautiful community. That’s the mosque I used to go every Friday and every time I could go.
“In 2007, unfortunately, they got the bad news that they were going to be evicted because the landlord wanted to evict them and rent or sell the property to someone else.
“I heard about the story at the time and we sat together. We had a little discussion on it and I proposed to help them save the mosque by purchasing it basically.”
Maybe you heard I was given the honour to help the temporary Mosque in Seville? Now you too can be part of the FIRST purpose-built mosque in Seville!
— Fred Oumar KANOUTÉ (@FredericKanoute) May 6, 2019
Almost 12 years since his first generous donation, Kanoute is raising funds to help construct a three-story, purpose-built mosque with underground parking.
He is aiming to raise £250,000 through the Kanoute 4 Seville Mosque campaign for the first purpose-built mosque in Seville in over 700 years.
Aided by Spaniards Ibrahim Hernandez and Luqman Nieto in the planning of the new mosque project, Kanoute still maintains a close link to Seville.
“It has this special flavor, a special light, it’s a special city. Football has a lot to do with it,” he said.
“People are just crazy about their football. I don’t think I can remember having seen one single person there not liking football or not the following football and not following one of the two teams, Sevilla FC or Real Betis.
“It’s absolutely crazy there, I’ve never seen that, and I’ve played in many derbies in London.
“But the derby that I’ve lived in Seville is just crazy. So, yes there is a special flavor about this city and it goes beyond football.
“I’ve seen a fantastic community there and I’m not only talking about the Muslim community. The people who received us are very welcoming.”
Watford’s Abdoulaye Doucoure and Manchester City’s Benjamin Mendy are among the players supporting Kanoute’s project, as is former Arsenal player Abou Diaby.
“We need them and all the athletes because my link was with football. When you see people retweet or support the project, it helps.”
There are nearly 1.3 million Muslims in Spain, making up 3 percent of the country’s 45 million population.
Muslims ruled much of Spain for centuries starting from 711 to 1492. Their last king was defeated by the Catholic king and queen, Ferdinand and Isabella, in 1492.
After that Muslims mosques were either left to ruin or converted into churches.