Turkey’s Directorate for Religious Affairs (Diyanet) has announced plans to build the largest mosque in the Balkans, in the Albanian capital Tirana, citing the low capacity in the city’s sole existing mosque.
Only 60 people are able to worship at the same time in the Et’hem Bey Mosque, despite the fact that 70 percent of Tirana’s population of over 300,000 is Muslim, İsmail Palakoğlu, the head of the Diyanet Foundation (TDV), told state-run Anadolu Agency on Oct. 27. Palakoğlu said they planned to build the new mosque on one hectare of land.
People are worshipping in the Tirana Square during holidays because the Et’hem Bey Mosque is not big enough, he said. “There is difficulty during rainy weather. But in the new mosque, which will have four minarets, 4,500 people will be able to pray,” he added.
Palakoğlu said the license procedure was still ongoing, but added that they planned to complete the construction of the mosque within two to three years.
Following Turkey’s presidential election in late August, incoming Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu brought the Diyanet under his subordination as part of reassignments in the new Cabinet. Though previously subordinated to another ministry, the Diyanet is the highest religious authority in Turkey, which despite being a Muslim majority country has been a secular state since the 1920s.
The TDV has been involved in a number of high profile activities abroad this year, paying the wages of imams in the flood-hit Bosnia and Herzegovina in addition to restoring mosques and other religious buildings that were damaged in the flood.