Páll Hjaltason, chairman of the Reykjavík City Urban Planning Council, said the city will fulfill its ten-year-old promise to the Association of Muslims in Iceland and grant them a free lot to build a mosque within city limits but the Islamic Culture Center of Iceland will not receive a lot for the same purpose unless the City Council recommends it specifically.
From Reykjavík, the Pond and City Hall. Photo by Páll Kjartansson.
“In the urban planning project I’m currently working on, it was agreed ten years ago to grant a lot to the Association of Muslims in Iceland along with three other religious associations. I don’t think it’s alright for Reykjavík City to go back on a ten-year-old promise,” Hjaltason told Fréttabladid.
“I would also like to point out that Christian associations do not get lots, except for the National Church of Iceland, towards which we have legal obligations. It’s not like the city is full of lots for houses of worship which we need to get rid of,” he commented.
Hjaltason added that in his opinion, the best way to proceed is for the two Muslim associations to cooperate on building a mosque, work together in harmony and for the mosque to be used by all Muslims requesting a place of worship.
Regarding the lot application from the Islamic Center of Iceland, Hjaltason explained that for it to be considered it must be submitted to the City Council; he will not find a lot for another mosque under urban planning conditions.
Karim Askari, vice-chairman of the Islamic Center of Iceland, said the main issue is to find a lot for a mosque for all Muslims in Iceland.
“The Association of Muslims and the Islamic Center follow the same religion and therefore it is alright that there is only one lot,” Askari stated, adding he would like a committee to be appointed with representatives of all Muslims to be responsible for the mosque.
Askari said that although the Association of Muslims originally applied for the lot, it was also done in the name of people who have since joined the Islamic Center.
The difference between the two associations is that the latter is democratic, while the former has a senate appointed for life, Askari stated, explaining that therefore the Islamic Center cannot accept that only the Association of Muslims will have access to the lot.
Anna Kristinsdóttir, Reykjavík City’s director of human rights, said that even though there aren’t many free lots in the city, it isn’t possible to disregard one of the associations and provide a lot for the other.
Hjaltason disagrees. “It isn’t a given that lots like that are distributed.”
The two associations have been in dispute, with the Association of Muslims accusing the Islamic Center of extremism.
Click here to read more about this story.