After being postponed for several years, the biggest mosque in Africa was finally opened in Algeria.

Estimated read time 3 min read

After facing political turmoil, Algeria has finally opened a massive mosque along its Mediterranean coast. The project, initially intended to showcase the country’s power and faith, has now become known for its setbacks and financial issues.

The Great Mosque of Algiers, constructed by a Chinese company in the 2010s, boasts the tallest minaret in the world at 265 meters (869 feet).

The mosque, which is the third largest globally and the largest in Africa, can accommodate 120,000 worshippers in its prayer room. The modern design incorporates elements of Arab and North African styles to pay homage to Algerian heritage and customs, and also features a helicopter landing pad and a library capable of holding 1 million books.

Ali Mohamed Salabi, the general secretary of the world union of Muslim Ulemas, stated that the inauguration would steer Muslims towards “goodness and moderation.”

The interior of the Great Mosque of AlgiersView image in fullscreen

Promoting a moderate form of Islam has been a top focus in Algeria since the military suppressed a rebellion led by Islamists during the 1990s, when the nation was engulfed in a violent civil war.

The opening of the mosque in Algeria was marked by a ceremonial event led by President Abdelmadjid Tebboune. The mosque has actually been accessible to tourists and state guests for approximately five years, but a previous ceremony had been postponed.

The schedule permits the mosque to officially open its doors to the public in time for daily prayers during the upcoming Muslim holy month of Ramadan, starting next month.

The construction of the mosque was plagued by setbacks and disputes over a period of seven years. This included concerns about the chosen location, which experts deemed to be at risk for earthquakes. The state refuted these claims in a news release published on Sunday by APS, the state news agency. A significant number of Algerians expressed dissatisfaction with the project, arguing that they would have preferred the construction of four hospitals across the country instead.

A night view of the Great Mosque of Algiers

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The total cost for the project was officially $898 million, or £708 million.

The construction of the mosque was initiated by former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika. He aimed for it to be known as his enduring achievement and be named the “Abdelaziz Bouteflika Mosque”, similar to the Mosque Hassan II in Casablanca, Morocco. This mosque, which bears the name of the former king of neighboring and competing country Morocco, was once recognized as the largest in Africa.

The demonstrations that occurred in Algeria in 2019 resulted in Bouteflika’s resignation after two decades of being in control. This prevented him from carrying out his intentions of naming the mosque after himself or officially opening it in February 2019 as originally planned.

During the time of Bouteflika, there were concerns about corruption in the building of the mosque, as well as a large highway and one million new housing units. It was believed that contractors were giving kickbacks to state officials for their involvement.


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