Forty-four years after the inception of an idea to build an Islamic cultural center in Slovenia, the first foundation stone for the center was placed on Saturday in a groundbreaking ceremony in capital Ljubljana.
Thousands of people gathered for the ceremony which was also attended by Bosniak member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Bakir Izetbegovic, President of the Government of Slovenia Alenka Bratušek, former President of Slovenia Danilo Turk, Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Jankovic, mufti of the Islamic Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina Hussein Kavazovic and mufti of Ljubljana Nedzad Grabus.
"I am happy to attend this extraordinary ceremony sharing joy with Bosniaks and Muslims all over Slovenia and Ljubljana, who will soon get their home -- a modern Islamic cultural center and a mosque," Izetbegovic told the ceremony.
"I thank the Republic of Slovenia and Ljubljana for the support to the project by providing the necessary permits and approvals for the construction. Thanks to all people of good will, the governments of friendly countries and organizations for their engagement, their voluntary contributions and donations to the Mufti Nedzad Grabus and his associates in this historic project."
The idea of building an Islamic cultural center in Ljubljana dates back to 1969 when the first formal request was submitted by Sulejman Kemurato, the then head of the Islamic community in Ljubljana.
The Islamic community have since faced problems in obtaining a construction permit and finding a location for the center.
After taking office, Ljubljana Mayor Jankovic offered a new location to build a mosque in the city center. In 2008, Islamic community offered to buy the land.