(AhlulBayt News Agency) - The Bahraini regime plans to fund a mosque in Finland’s capital has sparked tensions as Muslims say it is meant to divide rather than unite them in a country where they constitute a tiny minority.
The mosque which is expected to be a center of Helsinki's growing Muslim diaspora, is already causing friction between Muslims as it will be Bahraini-funded and based on the Wahhabi ideology despised by many Muslims.
Wahhabism also referred to as Salafism is the official sect in Saudi Arabia and is also the ideology of all Takfiri terrorist groups in the world especially al-Qaeda ISIS, al-Nusra Front, Boko Haram, al-Shabab, etc.
Bahrain’s monarchy decision to fund the Mosque is worrying many as the Manama regime is known to be involved in a brutal crackdown in the tiny Persian Gulf state.
The Helsinki City Council has set aside a piece of land for a large new mosque in collaboration with the Foreign Ministry.
The $151 million Mosque will be known as the Oasis center is expected to be a sprawling complex with space for 1,200 worshippers with landscaped gardens harking back to Moorish Spain.
Its four minarets will compete on the skyline with the smoke stacks of surrounding factories and it is expected to open in 2024.
While Muslims in the Finnish capital lack enough space for conducting their activities especially daily congregational prayers and the weekly Friday prayers, especially after the recent influx of refugees, but they do not want a center that will divide rather than unite them.
Tarja Mankkinen, an interior ministry official responsible for Finland's anti-radicalization policy and other observers have pointed out that Bahrain's human rights record is a cause for concern.
"The role of the actors who fund the mosque and its activities might consist a [security] risk if it decreases the feeling of belonging to the Finnish society among the Muslim population," she told Middle East Eye.
Many Muslims and non-Muslims in Finland are concerned that if Bahrain funds the Mosque, the repressive regime could make demands regarding both the construction and operation of the future mosque.
Speaking to the Middle East Eye, Finnish journalist Liisa Liimatainen said that Bahrain's support for the mosque "means bringing hate politics to Finland".
"I'm not against a mosque - I'm against a mosque built by Bahrain, Saudi Arabia," she said.
Referring to a controversy surrounding a Saudi-funded mosque in Geneva, Liimatainen said that judging from the "experience in Europe about Saudi financing of mosques", it is "an illusion that this money is without conditions".
Liimatainen notes that Bahraini rulers, who also practice Wahhabism, have been oppressing and cracking down on Shiite Muslims who are the majority in the Persian Gulf country.
Meanwhile, The Finnish foundation handling the proposed construction means that all plans are subject to strict co-ordination and supervision, she added.
“The rules include no radical teachings or ways of operation… The plan is clear that the activities of the mosque will be managed by Finnish Muslims and that activities will also be organized in Finnish. The Friday sermons, for example, must be organized in both Arabic and Finnish.”
Meanwhile, Susanne Dahlgren, Islam researcher and lecturer at the University of Tampere, stressed an urgent need for new mosques in Finland. According to her, more mosques and prayer rooms should be built to avoid people praying in the street, as has previously happened during Muslim holidays. "Mosques do not contribute to radicalization. On the contrary, they provide a welcome signal," Dahlgren noted in an interview with Finnish national broadcaster Yle.
According to Dahlgren, Saudi Arabia is one of the countries which previously showed a keen interest in the construction of mosques in Europe. However, Saudis are known for spreading their form of Islam, which Finland "would rather avoid.
At present, there are about 80 prayer rooms available for Finland's Muslim population of about 65,000 Muslims, including about 30 in the metropolitan area.
The number of Muslims in the northern European country is expected to grow to 190,000 (or 3.5 percent of the population) by 2050.