$5-M mosque to be built in Cebu

CEBU CITY—The Cebu City government is rolling out its plan to build a $5-million mosque as one of the important landmarks in its massive development in the reclaimed South Road Properties (SRP).

The director of the local Office of Muslim Affairs in Cebu City, Sakiran Hajan, said he has already received authority from Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña to negotiate with a wealthy patron in Dubai to fund the construction.

“This will be one of the biggest mosques in the city and it was initiated by Christians and the local government,” Hajan said. “This shows how peace-loving Muslims are now part of the Cebu community.”

Hajan flew to the United Arab Emirates over the weekend for the meeting.

Mayor Osmeña earlier announced he would allocate 2,500 square meters of land for the mosque on what was formerly Kawit Island. The island is now part of the reclamation project where the city plans to build attractions, including the mosque.

The SRP, completed in 2002, was funded by a loan from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation. Filinvest land Inc. is also set to start its long-term P25-billion development on over 50 hectares of property under its joint-venture project with the city.

The mosque could accommodate 30,000 faithfuls, Hajan said.

Besides the mosque, which could be an imposing figure in Cebu City as visitors come from the sealanes or as they arrive by air, will also have a mall complex which should generate revenues for the mosque’s upkeep.

The predominantly Christian Cebu and the estimated 40,000 Muslims in the city have been enjoying generations of relative peace because of efforts of local religious leaders and the local government.

Osmeña has also given the Muslims a four-hectare cemetery in barangay Guba, the first of its kind in the country, Hajan said. The mayor has been declared an honorary sultan by the predominantly Maranao community in the city for his pro-Muslim efforts.

The Muslim community in the city has volunteered to police its ranks from troublemakers and members of separatist rebels and violent groups from Mindanao, Hajan said. Even during the Catholic celebration of the Sinulog, held in honor of the Child Jesus, hundreds of Muslims go to the streets as security volunteers.

“The Muslims are enjoying a life of peace and prosperity in Cebu,” Hajan said. “We do not want to destroy that.” (businessmirror)

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