Thursday, 26 June 2014
A former bullfighting site in Barcelona could become Europe’s largest mosque, local members of the Muslim community said after reportedly finding an interested buyer to cover the cost of the approximately $3 billion project,The Guardian newspaper reported Wednesday.
“Residents of Barcelona should be proud that Muslims want to transform the pain of bullfighting into a spiritual center,” The Guardian quoted Mowafak Kanfach, of the Islamic Federation of Catalonia, as telling the Spanish daily 20 Minutos.
Kanfach, who believes the mosque could be a “high-level tourist attraction,” said Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, expressed interest in buying La Plaza Monumental, the former bullfighting site that became largely unused after the region banned the traditional spectacle in which one or more bulls are baited and then killed for entertainment.
La Plaza Monumental sat largely unused since hosting Catalonia’s last bullfight in 2011 and could be used as a mosque, which is desperately needed for Barcelona’s large Muslim community, Kanfach said.
The ambitious project is still in the initial phase as the proposal is waiting on the sale of La Plaza Monumental by the current owner and the approval of the city of Barcelona.
A mosque with the capacity of up to 40,000 worshippers under its 300-meter minaret is envisaged, Kanfach explained, with regular exhibitions open to the public as well as restaurants and shops.
Plans envision a renovation that would take five years and employ an estimated 4,000 people.
It is not the first time Barcelona considered turning a bullfighting ring into a mosque. In the early 2000s, the city’s then-mayor, Joan Clos, mulled the possibility of building a mosque in another site; the Las Arenas bullfighting ring.
The plan for the project was cancelled due to disagreements between the Saudi-based financial backers, and the ring was turned into a shopping center.