Chechen president inaugurates largest mosque in Israel
Published Monday 24/03/2014 (updated) 26/03/2014 19:39
Residents of the Palestinian town of Abu Ghosh wave the Chechen
flag during the dedication ceremony the new Ahmad Kadyrov
mosque, on March 23 2014.(AFP/Menahem Kahana)
ABU GHOSH, Israel (AFP) -- The head of the Russian republic of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, inaugurated Israel's largest mosque on Sunday, in a village near Jerusalem whose inhabitants claim descent from Muslim migrants from the Caucasus.
"Chechens were only able to declare their nationality freely 11 years ago thanks to Akhmad Kadyrov who drafted the Chechen constitution and enabled us to say to the world we are Muslim Chechens," he told the gathering.
The new $10-million mosque in the Palestinian-Israeli village of Abu Ghosh, to which Chechnya donated $6 million, is named for the Chechen strongman's father and previous president, Akhmad Kadyrov, who was killed in a bomb attack in 2004.
The new mosque can accommodate more than three thousand worshipers and covers an area of 3,200 square meters.
Only the Al-Aqsa mosque in East Jerusalem, whose annexation by Israel is not recognized internationally, is larger.
Villagers on foot and on horseback waved Chechen flags as Kadyrov arrived.
Inside the mosque he joined locals in prayer.
Abu Ghosh mayor Issa Jabr said that the village had ongoing contacts with Chechnya.
"We visited them in 2010 and we talked about communication and cultural exchange," he told AFP.