LOCAL >Construction begins for mosque to be built in Istanbul's Taksim Square

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The construction of a mosque that is set to be built in Istanbul’s Taksim Square began on Feb. 17 with an official ceremony attended by the city’s mayor, Kadir Topbaş.

Speaking at the event for the project, which has been the subject to controversy and saw lengthy legal processes, Topbaş said there has always been a need for a mosque in the city’s major tourist and culture hub. 

“The fact that the mosque is near the Santa Maria Church and two sanctuaries facing Taksim shows how tolerant this city is,” he said.   

He added that the lack of mosques in Taksim necessitated the construction of the new mosque. 

He recalled the debates that occurred regarding the construction of the mosque in the square, adding that if such a place is a “fundamental need,” then it would have to be built. 

The plan has a contentious history going back decades. In 1983 a similar project was suggested but the Council of State ruled that constructing mosques, bazaars and parking garages on Taksim Square would be against the public benefit.

When he was the mayor of Istanbul, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan argued that the mosque plan would be in public welfare.  

Erdoğan said again that the mosque plan was ready, stating during a public speech on July 19, 2016, that Taksim would become more beautiful.   

Various plans and designs have been developed over the years for a mosque in Taksim. In July 2015, the Council of State reversed the judgement, canceling various construction plans in Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district, paving the way for a number of projects, including the mosque.

Topbaş said he refrained from looking at the development of the mosque’s construction as “the success of a struggle” but considered the case as a “need” that was finally met. 

Selim Dalaman, one of the architects of the mosque, said the sanctuary was inspired by art deco style, and will carry traces of the history to the future.

February/17/2017

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