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Finns Party Helsinki chair: Grand mosque is welcome

Seppo Kanerva says the plan for a new centre of worship would “promote peace”, but says he doesn’t want to hear “wailing” from a minaret in the early hours.

Muslimi moskeijassa.
A Muslim man in a mosque in Helsinki. Most of the city's Muslim prayer spaces are currently housed in private flats or above shopping centres. Image: Yle

The chair of the Helsinki Finns Party group has said he supports the establishing of a grand mosque in the capital, so long as it doesn’t have a minaret with “someone wailing at five in the morning”.

Seppo Kanerva said the proposed mosque and multicultural centre, with a planned floor area of up to 20,000 square metres, was “welcome”, and that it would promote peace between different religions.

The scheme has reportedly received a commitment from the royal family of Bahrain to finance the initial phase.

Kanerva says he will give his backing for the proposal, providing the funding does not come from the public purse.

”If we build churches, then why not mosques, so long as it’s built using its own money? It’s a question of civil peace. If a suitable location can be found, and the funding comes from elsewhere, then let it go ahead,” he said.

But Kanerva also said he would oppose the project if the call to prayer can be heard in the early hours.

”If they build a minaret on it for someone to start wailing from at five in the morning, I don’t want to have to listen to that. When I was in Turkey the minaret woke me up every morning at five, and that was irritating.”

Kanerva, a former captain in the Finnish Defence Forces, first came to parliament as a National Coalition Party MP, before deferring to the Centre Party in 2002, and then again to the Finns Party in 2008.

In the run-up to the 2015 general election, some of Kanerva’s stated policy views differed considerably from the official Finns Party line. The politician told Yle he believes Finland is better off within the EU, and that the country should accept more refugees.

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