Great Mosque of Brussels

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Great Mosque of Brussels
Bruxelles (Cinquantenaire) la grande Mosquée.JPG
Basic information
Location Belgium Brussels, Belgium
Geographic coordinates 50°50′36″N 4°23′16″E / 50.84333°N 4.38778°E / 50.84333; 4.38778Coordinates: 50°50′36″N 4°23′16″E / 50.84333°N 4.38778°E / 50.84333; 4.38778
Affiliation Islam
District City of Brussels
Status Active
Leadership Jamal Momenah, chief director (2015)
Abdelhadi Sewif, chief imam (2015)
Architectural description
Architect(s) Ernest Van Humbeek
Tunisian Boubaker
Architectural style Arabic
Completed 1879 (original building)
1978 (transformation)

The Great Mosque of Brussels is the oldest mosque in Brussels. It is located in the Cinquantenaire Park. It is also the seat of the Islamic and Cultural Centre of Belgium.

The original building was built by architect Ernest Van Humbeek in an Arabic style, to form the Oriental Pavilion of the National Exhibition in Brussels in 1880. At that time the pavilion housed a monumental painting on canvas: “Panorama of Cairo”, by the Belgian painter Emile Wauters, which enjoyed major success. However, lack of maintenance in the twentieth century caused the building to deteriorate gradually.

In 1967, King Baudouin lent the building to King Faisal ibn Abd al-Aziz of Saudi Arabia with a 99-year rent-free lease, on an official visit to Belgium as part of negotiations to secure oil contracts.[1] The buildings was turned into a place of worship for the use Muslim immigrants to Belgium, which at the time were notably from Morocco and Turkey.[1] As part of the deal, imams from the Gulf area would be hired although their orthodox salafist were a different tradition, according to George Dallemagne, to that of the more open-minded immigrants[1] but their teachings would over time turn them into a more orthodox tradition and imams would discourage immigrants from integrating into the Belgian society, according to George Dallemagne.[1] The mosque, after a long reconstruction carried out at the expense of Saudi Arabia by Tunisian architect Boubaker, was inaugurated in 1978 in the presence of Khalid ibn Abd al-Aziz and Baudouin.[2] The Mosque's role the leading religious institution within the Belgian Islamic community—as well as its intended role as diplomatic bridge between the Saudi and Belgian monarchies—has been a point of debate since its re-foundation.[3] Imams and officials have come out to repeat the message that Islam is a religion of peace and has nothing to do with the terrorists in the aftermath of the November 2015 Paris attacks.[1][4] The ICC's director Khalid Alabri who propagated the Takfiri dogma was expelled by Belgian authorities for his extreme views in 2012.[1][4]


By by decree signed by Belgian education minister André Bertouille in 1983 the mosque is under the control of the Muslim World League which then received three positions on its board of directors.[5] The mosque is also financed by the Muslim World League, which in turn is financed by the government of Saudi Arabia.[4] The Islamic Cultural Center hosts a school and an Islamic research centre whose objectives are to propagate the Muslim faith. The prayers are in Arabic.[4] The centre also provides courses of Arabic for adults and children, as well as introductory courses in Islam.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Cendrowicz, Leo (23 Nov 2015). "Paris attacks: How the influence of Saudi Arabia sowed the seeds of radicalism in Belgium". The Independent. Retrieved 28 November 2015. 
  2. ^ Martin Dunford, Phil Lee. The Rough Guide to Brussels. Penguin, 2009. ISBN 9781405383776 p.114
  3. ^ (French) Ural Manço. Voix et voies musulmanes de Belgique. Volume 43 of Publications des Facultés universitaires Saint-Louis: Travaux et recherches, 2000. ISBN 9782802801368 pp.87-102
  4. ^ a b c d Wesel, Barbara (21 Nov 2015). "Brussels' Great Mosque and ties with Salafism". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 16 December 2015. 
  5. ^ "(fr) Comment le salafisme s'est développé en Belgique". La Libre Belgique. 12 February 2016. Retrieved 12 March 2017. 
  • Wim Robberechts. Brussels: a view from the sky. Davidsfonds, 2004. ISBN 9789058262752 p. 84
  • Eric Roose. The Architectural Representation of Islam: Muslim-commissioned Mosque Design in the Netherlands. Amsterdam University Press, 2009. ISBN 9089641335 p. 187