The head of the Muslim Community of Romania Mufti Muurat Yusuf says he is stunned by former President Traian Basescu’s recent statements according to which the planned construction in Bucharest of the largest mosque in Europe and of a Muslim University poses a risk to national security.
“These are attempts to divide the public opinion by a political conflict with religious tendencies. They said that after the mosque in downtown Bucharest is completed, 6,000 Muslim students will come to Romania, which will become a Balkan center of Islam. I assure you that there will never be in Romania a Muslim theological university and, on top of that, there are not 6,000 Muslim theology students in Bulgaria, Bosnia and Macedonia taken all together! (…) Former President Basescu should not involve the Muslim community in a political conflict with a religious pretext!” Mufti Yusuf declared in a press conference in Constanta on Monday.
Former President Traian Basescu said on Sunday, while attending a political event, that the idea of building in Bucharest the largest mosque in Europe and a Muslim University for 6,000 students represents a risk to national security and that in his opinion, this is a situation for the country’s Supreme Defence Council (CSAT) to analyse.
“There is no greater risk to national security than bringing Muslim students to Romania and exporting them further to Europe (…) I think such decisions are at least reckless, if not downright antinational,” Basescu said in remarks at the meeting of representatives of the regional leaders of the People’s Movement Party (PMP).
Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah reported that under an arrangement between Turkish and Romanian authorities, Turkey will build a large mosque in Bucharest, which is due for completion in three years’ time, and in a gesture of mutuality, Turkey will allocate a land plot for Romania to erect a church in Istanbul.
The construction of this mosque has been on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s agenda during his visit to Bucharest this April. According to the cited source, the two countries have reached a deal to speed up plans for the construction of the mosque.
The Muslim house of prayer that will cover a built an area of 13,000 square meters, will have a capacity of 2,000 people. Daily Sabath also reports that the Romanian Government approved the leasing out of the necessary land plot located in central Bucharest for 49 years.
Mufti Yusuf considers that Basescu’s statements threaten to divide the Romanian society on religious criteria, to start false topics of debate, and possibly an unprecedented “witch-hunt.”
“I am sorry to see that the former President has been misinformed on our future place of worship in Bucharest and that in his turn he circulates this information, but in order to restore the truth, let me remind him that during two official visits he paid to Turkey in 2011 and 2014, when I accompanied him, he and his counterpart agreed to allot land in Bucharest for the building of this mosque and of a Muslim cemetery. Conversely, the Turkish President committed to making available in Istanbul the necessary land plots for building a Romanian Christian church and a cemetery for the Romanian community in the Turkish metropolis,” said the Mufti.
“I am just as good a Romanian citizen and stand loyal to my country as the former President Basescu. My grandfather was a hero who fell on the battlefield serving his country in WW II, and my family fought in all the wars for the defence and restoration of the homeland,” stressed the high cleric, arguing also that in modern Romania, Muslims have been dutifully holding offices in all decision-making and power structures, whether with the Ministry of National Defence, the Ministry of the Interior, the Government or Parliament.
“And against this background, I don’t understand, why did the former President have to publicly assert that CSAT needs to ponder on the opportunity to build a Muslim religious house?,” the head of the Muslim Community of Romania inquired, according to Agerpres.
PSD acting leader Plumb on plans to build mosque in Bucharest: No such talks
Acting chairperson of the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD) Rovana Plumb said on Monday that the Government had not discussed plans to have a mosque built in Bucharest.
Asked by journalists if she knew anything about the Government having allegedly issued the approval for the construction of a mosque in the capital city, Plumb replied: “There have been no such talks.”