Great Mosque of Brussels

Brussels, Belgium

Great Mosque of Brussels

The Great Mosque of Brussels (French: Grande mosquée de Bruxelles, Dutch: Grote Moskee van Brussel) is located in the Cinquantenaire Park. The original building was built by architect Ernest Van Humbeeck in an Arabic style, to form the Oriental Pavilion of the National Exhibition in Brussels in 1880. At that time the pavilion housed a monumental painting on canvas: “Panorama of Cairo”, by the Belgian painter Emile Wauters, which enjoyed major success. However, lack of maintenance in the twentieth century caused the building to gradually deteriorate.

In 1967, King Baudouin lent the building to King Faisal ibn Abd al-Aziz of Saudi Arabia with a 99-year rent-free lease, on an official visit to Belgium as part of negotiations to secure oil contracts. The building was turned into a place of worship for the use of Muslim immigrants to Belgium, who at the time were notably from Morocco and Turkey. As part of the deal, imams from the Gulf area would be hired, although their orthodox salafism was a tradition, according to Georges Dallemagne, different from that of the more open-minded immigrants but their teachings would over time turn them into a more orthodox tradition and imams would discourage immigrants from integrating into the Belgian society, according to Georges Dallemagne. The mosque, after a long reconstruction carried out at the expense of Saudi Arabia by Tunisian architect Mongi Boubaker, was inaugurated in 1978 in the presence of Khalid ibn Abd al-Aziz and Baudouin.

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