A United Arab Emirates foundation, known for funding multimillion-dollar buildings across the world, enlisted an Australian architect to design a new mosque and events center commemorating the 51 people killed. The new mosque will replace the Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch.
Linwood imam Abdul Lateef says he shed tears “of joy” when dignitaries flew him to Abu Dhabi and promised to rebuild the dilapidated mosque after the March 15, 2019, attack.
The Zayed Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation paid off the existing building’s mortgage of more than $137,000, purchased the land in front of it, and promised to build “the best mosque in New Zealand” in its place, he said.
The not-for-profit charity was established by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, with an endowment of US$1.4 billion (NZ$2b) to use towards charity and humanitarian projects worldwide. It recently built a $50m mosque in Isis-hit Iraq, and a $150m cancer research hospital in Texas.
Lateef said UAE representatives were shocked at the dilapidated state of the Linwood mosque when they visited Christchurch after the terror attack, stuff.co.nz reported.
A month later, he was given 24 hours notice before being flown to Abu Dhabi and asked what help he needed.
“Everybody was happy” when he arrived home and told the community the news, he said.
Recent conflict within the Linwood mosque’s trust left the community worried the foundation would be scared off, but foundation spokesman Taoufik El Idrissi said it was committed to funding the project.
He said the new mosque would be the country’s biggest, and the only condition for the funding was that there could be no hate speech or politics, and the foundation would choose who would run it.
It was a “profound gesture” for a deserving community, he said.
“This is a beacon of hope this project – for the victims, as well as the Muslim community and New Zealand community in general.”
COVID-19 had delayed the project as its Abu Dhabi-based donors could not enter the country to finalize agreements with contractors. They were working on ways to sign off the project remotely now the architectural designs were complete.