The former footballer Freddie Oumar Kanoute has helped to raise over $1m in a crowdfunding campaign to build the first mosque in Seville, Spain, in over 700 years.
Kanoute, who played for West Ham, Spurs, Lyon and Seville during his career, is a French-born Muslim with a Malian background.
“Thank you and may Allah reward for you for all those who participated in the campaign,” Kanoute tweeted on Tuesday.
His LaunchGood page said: With your generosity, you have helped Frederic Oumar Kanoute fulfil his pledge to raise at least 1 million for the Seville Mosque – May Allah reward you immensely. The amount raised is indeed a great blessing, and will be a huge boost for the total project cost, estimated at 12 million Euros. This will be the central (Jami’) Mosque of this European city, hence the high cost. So, if you see that we’re continuing to ask for help, it’s still very much needed!”
The Muslim population of the city is around 30,000 and although there are several converted small spaces in the city for Muslims to pray, there is no purpose-built mosque to allow the Muslims to worship in a dignified way.
Thirteen years ago Kanoute first helped the Muslim community of Seville by purchasing a musallah – a converted commercial unit that has been serving the Muslims of the city. Since then the community has grown bigger and with it the need to have a dignified place of worship and a centre for the Muslim community.
“The great legacy of Islam in Spain is still present in every city today, and which attracts millions of visitors every year,” the campaign page added. “The contribution of this period of history (Al-Andalus), to the sciences, arts, philosophy, and society in general, are remarkable.
“The context is now obviously different, and this Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre will be a positive contribution by both serving the religious needs of Muslims and be open to all members of the community, including non-Muslims. Thus helping to dispel misconceptions about Muslims and Islam.”
Seville is the capital city of Andalusia which is a region of Spain full of glorious Islamic history. It attracts millions of international visitors each year, a large percentage of whom are Muslims.
Spain has an estimated two million Muslims. Amid rising Islamophobia in Spain and across Europe, the organisers of the Seville mosque project hope to tackle prejudice. Spain’s far-right Vox party has demanded the closure of what it described as “fundamentalist mosques” and called for the arrests and deportation of “extremist imams.”
You can find out more about proposed new Seville mosque here.