Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Connection

I noted this headline in the Baltic News Service last Fall (5 Sep 2008) "ARAB SHEIKH ASKS TALLINN FOR LAND TO BUILD MOSQUE", particularly when the Arab Sheikh turned out to be HH Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi, Emir of Sharjah. Finally a connection between the two places that didn't involve me. HH had apparently sent the city government of Tallinn a letter asking for land to be allocated for the mosque and an Islamic cultural center and offering funds for their construction. There followed various articles with the Center Party city government passing the letter to the Reform Party led national government, the Christian Democrats expressing concern about threats to state safety, both governments claiming they had no land to allocate or procedures to allocate it with. Finally on 24 January 2009 an article in BNS on Islamist extremism in Estonia mentioned that "Commenting on the offer of the emir of Sharjah to build a mosque there, [Chief Superintendent of the Estonian Security Police, Peeter] Oissar said that there was little likelyhood in support to radical Islam among persons connected with the emir."

It was good to see that someone finally noticed that Sharjah's scholarly, European-educated Emir was probably as agreeable a donor as Estonia was likely to find for it's first mosque. Given the recent downturn in the economy in the Baltics, perhaps there will be more interest in pursuing the offer.

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