South Africa opens largest mosque in southern hemisphere
Johannesburg: A huge mosque complex, largest in the southern hemisphere, modelled on the famous Selimiye mosque of Turkey was inaugurated on Friday by South African President Jacob Zuma here.
Built at a cost of about USD 24 million, the Nizamiye Mosque has become the largest mosque complex in the southern hemisphere by ousting the famous Grey Street Mosque in Durban.
Funded by Turkish philanthropist Ali Katircioglu, 74, it consists of a boarding school, clinic, library and museum.
The clinic was not part of the initial plan, but after meeting former President Nelson Mandela, Katircioglu added a clinic to his plan on Mandela's request.
The mosque boasts delicate artwork by craftsmen from Turkey who took three years to complete it.
"The opening of the Nizamiye Mosque will complement our efforts to advance the values of religious tolerance and the representation of religious harmony as espoused in our Constitution," Zuma said.
Zuma also lauded the support of the Turkish community in advancing his government's priority goals of education, health and job creation.
Part of the mosque, which is rapidly finding its way onto must-see lists of tourists, is a museum housing a huge range of Islamic art.
The original Selimiye Mosque is an Ottoman mosque in the city of Edirne, Turkey, built by architect Mimar Sinan between 1569 and 1575 and is regarded as one of the finest pieces of Islamic architecture.