ASTANA -- Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev has visited the construction site in Astana of what officials say will be Central Asia's largest mosque, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.
The Kazakh presidential office said today that Nazarbaev viewed the future Khaziret Sultan Mosque in the capital city on December 7. He said it is not sponsored by the state but rather by private funds raised by local Muslims.
"This is going to be the largest mosque in Central Asia," Nazarbaev said.
The mosque is expected to open next year. It will be in a classic Islamic style with traditional Kazakh ornaments and decorations. The mosque will cover some 17,700 square meters and its major hall will accommodate 5,000 worshippers.
The mosque will also have prayer rooms, a hall for marriages, Koran study areas, and classrooms for religious lessons.
Officials in Tajikistan had announced in May that Central Asia's largest mosque would be built in the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, with the help of investors and construction companies from Qatar.
The land for that mosque has been allocated by Dushanbe city authorities but construction has not yet started.
Authorities in Turkmenistan claim that the Turkmenbashi Mosque of Spirituality in the town of Kipchak near the capital, Ashgabat, is currently the largest mosque in Central Asia. Built in 2004, it reportedly cost some $100 million and is also the site of former Turkmen leader Saparmurat Niyazov's mausoleum.
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