Culture Clash

“All across Europe, the controversial construction of new mosques is raising questions about aesthetics and assimilation, faith and tolerance—and liberal democracy itself.”

Michael Z. Wise in Travel + Leisure:

200604architect200One of Europe’s largest mosques is rising over Rotterdam, and many residents are none too pleased. Its ornamented façade and arched windows appear transplanted from afar, and in fact the design was inspired by mosques in Cairo and Dubai. At a recent ceremony marking the start of the mosque’s construction, Mayor Ivo Opstelten complained that Muslims had ignored official calls to downsize the structure. “Faith is sometimes expressed more by reserved rather than explicit dissemination,” he said. The municipal government is indignant that the minarets of the new Essalaam mosque will loom as high as the lighted towers atop the nearby Feyenoord soccer stadium, the scene of major European athletic competitions. “It’s an ugly, marble thing,” says former deputy mayor Marco Pastors, describing the Oriental-style domed mosque where 1,200 people will pray. “It’s a bit of kitsch.”

More here.