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Algeria Officially Opens World’s Third Largest Mosque

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After years of political unrest, Algeria opened a massive mosque on its Mediterranean coast on Sunday. Initially, the project represented state-sponsored power and religiosity, but delays and cost overruns plagued it. It is Africa’s largest mosque.

Constructed in the 2010s by a Chinese construction company, the Great Mosque of Algiers has the tallest minaret in the world, standing at 869 feet (265 meters). With a prayer space that can hold 120,000 people, it is the largest mosque outside of the holiest cities of Islam and the third largest mosque in the world.

In addition to a helicopter landing pad and a library with the capacity to hold a million books, its modernist architecture honors Algerian tradition and culture with flourishes from the Arab and North African cultures.

“Toward goodness and moderation,” the inauguration would direct Muslims, according to World Union of Muslim Ulemas General Secretary Ali Mohamed Salabi.

Algeria has made promoting a moderate interpretation of Islam a top goal ever since government forces put down an Islamist-led uprising during the 1990s civil war that ravaged the nation.

The mosque was officially opened by Algerian President Abdelmajid Tebboune, who kept his commitment to do so with much fanfare and ceremony. But the major purpose of the occasion was ceremonial. For around five years now, the mosque has been accessible to both foreign visitors and state guests staying in Algeria. There was a postponed ceremony previously.

Because of the date, the mosque can formally be opened to the public in time for the midnight prayers that mark the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

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