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27 Feb, 2024 10:46

China-built mega-mosque inaugurated in Algeria (PHOTO)

Only the holy sites of Mecca and Medina are believed to be bigger than the Great Mosque of Algiers
China-built mega-mosque inaugurated in Algeria (PHOTO)

Algeria has inaugurated a massive mosque, known locally as Djamaa El-Djazair, after years of delays. It is the largest in Africa and features the world’s tallest minaret, standing at 265 meters (869 feet), and can accommodate around 120,000 people.

Built by the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC), the Great Mosque of Algiers, which was officially opened on Sunday ahead of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, is said to be the world’s third-largest mosque, trailing only Islam’s holiest sites in Mecca and Medina.

Constructed throughout the 2010s, its modernist design, which incorporates Arab and North African embellishments, covers 27.75 hectares (nearly 70 acres). It houses the Museum of Islamic Civilization, the Cultural Center, a lecture hall, and a library. There is also the Higher School for Islamic Sciences, which includes study rooms and laboratories.

The mosque has been open to international tourists and state visitors for about five years and for prayers since October 2020, but plans for an official opening ceremony were previously pushed back.

During the official opening event on Sunday, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said the Djamaa El-Djazair should guide Muslims toward the values of “moderation” and the “rejection of extremism,” according to the Algerian Press Service. Promoting a moderate form of Islam has been a top priority for the North African nation since government forces quelled an Islamist rebellion in the 1990s, during a violent civil war that swept the country.

The project, which reportedly cost nearly $900 million to build, had been started by the North African nation’s former president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who was forced to resign in 2019 after two decades in power. Bouteflika had planned to name the mosque after himself and inaugurate it in February 2019, but protests against his rule prevented him from doing so.

An estimated 99% of Algeria’s 44 million population are Sunni Muslims, the world’s largest branch of Islam.