Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Kuwait to donate $5 million to build Islamic institutions

Kuwait to donate $5 million to build Islamic institutions

Kuwait to donate $5 million to build Islamic institutions

PG04-Story-1.jpg
PG04-Story-1.jpg

Major renovations planned for mosque at Boeung Kak Lake, plus new school, house of worship for Ratanakkiri province

RICK VALENZUELA

The Ministry of Labour’s Othsman Hassan (left) and Sen Tith discuss renovations to the mosque at Boeung Kak Lake.

KUWAIT has pledged US$5 million for

Cambodian Islamic institutions, including renovating the dilapidated

International Dubai Mosque near Boeung Kak Lake. The earmark allays

concerns the mosque will be forced to close once the slated development

of the lakeside is under way.

Ahmad Yahya, government adviser and mosque committee vice chairman,

said the donation was announced privately by Kuwaiti Prime Minister

Sheikh Nasser Mohammed Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah during his state visit earlier

this week.

"Almost two hectares of land will be used to build a centre, consisting

of a mosque, school, meeting room for about 1,000 people and a hostel

for students from the provinces," said Ahmad  Yahya, adding that the

funds were much needed. "Many people feel that the [current] mosque was

not built properly, and the roof is leaking," he said.

Ahmad Yahya said that $100,000 will go towards building a mosque and

school in Ratanakkiri province, where about 60 members of the Jarai

ethnic minority have converted to Islam. He said the government will

also contribute 50,000 copies of the Koran and 10,000 prayer mats once

the new centre is completed.

Ahmad Yahya said new facilities are necessary to cater to the steadily

growing Muslim community. "After 20 or 30 years, there are a lot more

people. At Friday prayers we get about 1,000 [worshippers]. Students

also come to stay, so we need more room," he said.

In February 2007, the municipal government signed a 133-hectare

leasehold agreement around the lake with local company Shukaku Inc. to

develop the area as "a commercial, cultural, tourist, housing and

recreation centre." Some fear the development will displace as many as

3,900 families and hundreds of businesses, and that the mosque, which

sits on the shore of the lake, might also be forced to relocate.

But the mosque's Imam Osman Mohammet, 76, said municipal authorities

assured him the institution will be untouched by development of the

lakeside.

"Phnom Penh Municipal Governor [Kep Chuktema] told me the mosque will

not be affected by private developments. He guaranteed that the land

title belongs to [us]," he said.

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