Florence city council has confirmed that it is reviewing plans to build a “mega-mosque” to serve as a large Islamic cultural centre and new home for Muslim worshippers, seeing as how the city’s central mosque can no longer cope with its 1,000-member-strong congregation.
According to The Local, Florence has pledged to locate premises for a “mega-mosque” in its historic centre to accommodate more Muslims, who currently worship in a 400-square-metre former garage.
The same source added that the city council “… is still evaluating the long-term possibility of constructing a large Islamic cultural centre and place of worship – measuring up to 7,000 square metres – in the city.”
The Members of Florence’s Muslim community, who welcomed the initiative, had reportedly met with city council leaders on Monday to discuss the possibility of moving to a new 800-square-metre site in the city centre.
“Feasibility studies are currently being carried out, and the council has promised that the community will have new premises within a month,” reported the source.
Imam of Florence, Izzedin Elzir, told The Local, that the current mosque, one of three Muslim places of worship in the city, can no longer house the large number of worshippers; especially during Friday Prayers.
The Imam said that people were forced to pray on the streets because the size of the building is too small to host all the worshipers, even though they do “two prayer sessions per Friday.”
“It’s a pretty terrible situation – it’s bad for our image as a mosque and bad for the image of the city too,” he added.
The imam also mentioned that “Florence is home to some 30,000 Muslims, and it would be a great place to build the centre.”
The plan for building a “mega-mosque” comes amid a hot debate in Italy over what are known as “anti-mosque” laws, presented in 2015 by the Lombardy’s right-wing leadership, who attempted to limit the construction of new mosques and monitor the already functioning ones.