Turkey's Erdogan opens Europe's 'first eco-friendly mosque' in Cambridge

Turkey's Erdogan opens Europe's 'first eco-friendly mosque' in Cambridge
The Turkish president officially inaugurated the British mosque, which boasts a near zero-carbon footprint, as hundreds of supporters and protesters turned out for his visit.
3 min read
05 December, 2019
Skylights at the roof of Cambridge Mosque, which provide sunlight all year round [Getty]
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday oversaw the formal opening of Cambridge Central Mosque, the first eco-friendly mosque in Europe.

Arriving from a NATO conference in London, the Turkish president was met by a heavy police presence in the city.

Several residential roads surrounding the mosque were closed, while supporters cheered and waved Turkish flags as Erdogan's motorcade approached the mosque's carpark. 

Footage from inside the mosque shows the Turkish president reciting verses from the Quran. 

Elsewhere in the city, in King's parade and outside Cambridge Police Station, hundreds of protesters gathered to demonstrate against his visit. 

One group, Cambridge Stop The War Coalition, wrote on Facebook: "We will be standing in solidarity with the Kurdish community against Turkish war crimes and against the oppression of any who dare to protest against the Turkish Government".

The idea for the mosque was conceived in 2008, after Muslim students in Cambridge reached out to Timothy Winter, Shaykh Zayed Lecturer for Islamic Studies at Wolfson College, Cambridge University. 

The four mosques in Cambridge, which were formerly churches and homes, had failed to accommodate the city's growing number of worshippers.

Tens of thousands of individuals and organisations have donated towards the project, including the Qatari National fund. Yet the main donor was a consortium of agencies in Turkey.

British singer-songwriter Yusuf Islam, commonly known as Cat Stevens, became a patron of the project, who invited Erdogan as the official guest to the ceremony.

A competition for the mosque's design was won by husband and wife-led architecture firm Marks Barfield, who had helped to create the London Eye.

Timber, from sustainably sourced spruce, has been used to build the structure of the near zero-carbon footprint mosque. Photovoltaic cells have been placed on the roof, which supply 30 percent of the mosque's electricity needs, rising to 40 percent in the summer.  

Large skylights in the roof provide natural light all year round, supplemented by low LED bulbs.

The mosque is heated and cooled by locally generated energy through heat pumps in its basement. Rainwater is harvested to flush WCs and irrigate the garden, where many plants and trees are found.

The mosque's Imam, Ali Tos, told Anadolu Agency that the mosque has been warmly received by the community and that worshippers far and wide visit the mosque to worship and witness its splendour.

Nearly a thousand visitors remain on the waiting list, most of whom are non-Muslim keen to learn more about the unique features of the mosque, as well as more about the faith of Islam.

The mosque has two Imams, one Turkish and another Bosnian-Herzogovnian.

The Imam added that the mosque did not serve citizens of a single state, but all Muslim around the world.  

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