Lithuania's Tatar community issued a statement on Wednesday, criticizing the decision to build a mosque in the Vilnius area of Liepkalnis. It says it distances from this project.
Tatar community distances itself from mosque project in Vilnius
© Shutterstock nuotr.

The community believes a problematic land lot has been picked for the mosque construction, and the initiator of this construction has no backing from Lithuania's Muslim and Tatar communities. Tatars say the head of the recently established community represent not Lithuania's Muslims but Muslims coming into the country from abroad.

"Nobody has given Alekandras Beganskas the right to personally decide the mosque construction matters in Vilnius. This person, who claims to be the board chairman mufti, the highest ranking Muslim clergyman, of the Council of Muslim Religious Communities in Lithuania – Muftiate – was not elected by the Lithuanian Tatar community and has a small number of supporters, mainly foreigners," the Tatar community said in the statement.

"Muslims who recently came to live in Lithuania can ask for a land lot to build a prayer house, but that should not be mixed with the old community of Lithuania's Muslim Tatars and one should not act on its behalf," the Tatars said.

Mufti Romas Jakubauskas, board chairman of the Spiritual Centre of Sunni Muslims of Lithuania, says Beganskas' picked land lot in Liepkalnis had been offered to the Tatar community for the same purpose but it refused because the lot includes part of an old mariavite cemetery, and a filling station is also close to that area.

Lithuania's Tatars have already picked, as the most appropriate, a 3.2 ha land lot in Sietyno Street in Vilnius, and Jakubauskas says they have already invested into the vision of the mosque complex and architectural calculations.

Jakubauskas says a mosque is really necessary in Vilnius but he called the decision to build it in Liepkalnis hasty and unacceptable in many aspects.

The 15min.lt news website reported earlier Beganskas hopes to receive 7–8 million euros in funding for the new mosque from Turkey, and probably Saudi Arabia or Qatar

Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Simasius says the picked place is not the best. He believes the new mosque should be built near Lukiskes Square in central Vilnius where it used to be until 1968 when the Soviet demolished it.

And the Tatar community backs this position.

The majority of Muslims in Lithuania are Tatars who are Sunni Muslims. Some 3,000 Tatars live in Lithuania, based on the 20–11 census figures.

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