SYDNEY – Following years of campaigning, the Muslim community in Sydney’s western suburb of Blacktown has finally opened the doors of their first mosque, offering Muslim leaders a chance to reach out to troubled young people in the area.
"The mosque will be a place for troubled youth off the streets to liaise with others, to talk with them," Sharif Amin from the Afghan Association of New South Wales told ABC News on Monday, May 5.
"So that they can feel a sense of belonging, a place where they can be heard, where they can become involved with other activities."
Opening its doors for the first time on last Saturday, Blacktown Mosque welcomed more than 3000 people who packed the mosque area.
The mosque has taken 15 years to build because of financial constraints and council issues such as community objections about noise and traffic.
The land for the mosque was purchased in 1998.
Welcoming people from all faiths and backgrounds, the mosque leaders hope the long-awaited mosque would offer them a platform to engage with young people from the wider community.
"With unemployment figures rising and an increase in gang activity, it's crucial that young people have a support system, where they can go to for help," Amin said.
"If we don't address these issues early on than we'll have to deal with more crime in our community," he added.
The mosque would serve as a place of worship for the Muslim community. Moreover, it will run religious classes and youth events.
"It welcomes everyone, from all walks of life, whether its summer or winter, requiring no application, no formal permission," he said.
"It does not turn away anyone, whether they are young or male or female, Muslim or non-Muslim, black or white, entry into the mosque does not require any fee, everyone is welcome."
Muslims, who have been in Australia for more than 200 years, make up 1.7 percent of its 20-million population.
Islam is the country's second largest religion after Christianity.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net - Read full article here
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