The Mosque in Bucharest: Interfaith Harmony or Political Strategy?

While the Turkish mosque, “mega” or not, coming to Bucharest might not prove to be the beginning of tumultuous relations between Christians and Muslims in the country, questions still remain as to why Romania has not even been offered the reciprocal courtesy of building an Orthodox church in Istanbul, if this is indeed to be viewed as establishing strong interfaith relations between the two countries. There is also the lingering issue of whether or not it would be foolish of Romanian authorities to ignore the possibility of a Muslim Brotherhood Islamization agenda, especially in light of the bloody terrorist attacks taking place throughout the West.

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By Georgiana Constantin | September 4, 2016

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Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia (built between 532-537) was once the center of Christian Orthodox Constantinople

Plans for building a new and perhaps “mega” Turkish mosque in Romania’s capital has sparked vehement debates and demonstrations. People have even protested construction by burying pig carcasses on the proposed site, so that, according to Islamic belief, the ground would be defiled and no religious edifice would be raised. Protestors have also placed wooden crosses throughout the city with messages opposing construction.

These actions were taken because the citizens were never asked whether they wanted the mosque to be built.  Some say it will be the biggest mosque in Europe, while others have heard that it will be a normal size building, yet the dimensions of the construction do not seem to matter for most. Rather, it is the potential cultural and perhaps physical danger which people fear it might pose. Romanian collective memory still recounts the bygone days of fighting against Muslim invaders, and recent terror attacks in Europe have not done much to make them forget that period.

Former Romanian President, Traian Basescu stated that the building of mosques is a part of the plan to Islamize countries and that this is happening all around Europe at an accelerated rate. He noted that Romania had enough mosques to cater to the needs of its Muslim community and that the country is not in need of an expedited Islamization process. “It is a good idea for Romania to remain a Christian country and follow its Christian path and for the people to follow the course of a Christian people. We should not move towards an unjustified process of raising the impact of the Islamist cult, of Muslimism in Romania,” Basescu observed. However, Basescu originally negotiated the deal.

Certainly, some would reject the idea of an ulterior motive for the building of mosques across Europe and the U.S. At the same time, others would argue that to overlook such a possibility creates a potential security threat.

In his book, The Brotherhood: America’s Next Great Enemy, Erick Stakelbeck, while discussing the risk posed by the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and its Islamization plan for the West, also points to an increasingly extremist Turkey run by a very eager Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whose political party, AKP, “has roots in the Muslim Brotherhood” and is considered “an MB satellite organization.”  The Islamist Erdoğan has no problem funding mosques all over Europe and the U.S. in the hope of creating Islamization centers.

In what Stakelbeck calls the “enclave effect,” the Turkish government funds multi-million dollar mosques which become either statements of power through their sheer size and conspicuous or central locations or turn into a way of creating mostly Muslim neighborhoods by appearing in small, quiet quarters, with a minor or non-existent Muslim population, where in time the old residents feel compelled to leave and people of the Islamic faith occupy the area. The five-times-a-day call to prayer, the traffic and commotion, as well as other factors such as cultural incompatibility are usually at play in these situations.

In Europe, many regions subjected to Islamization have become no-go zones, or Sharia controlled zones, where it is dangerous for the non-Muslim population to set foot. Stakelbeck even quotes Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, one of the leading proponents of this “enclave effect” as exclaiming: “We will conquer Europe, we will conquer America, not through the sword but through dawah [proselytizing].”

Therefore, the problem with mosques funded by the Turkish government is that it is one which is steering the target country to an increasingly Islamist future and, as Erick Stakelbeck observes, uses Muslim “Brotherhood-like tactics” to spread this type of mentality throughout Europe and around the world. As Ibrahim el-Zayat the assumed leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Germany proves by also helping spread mosques throughout the world, the united efforts of so many to propagate the cause of Islamization are overwhelmingly powerful forces which might lead to a danger filled future for non-Muslims. For, ultimately, as Daniel Greenfield describes, “what ISIS accomplishes by brute force, the Muslim Brotherhood does by setting up networks of front groups. Both ISIS and the Brotherhood control large Muslim populations. ISIS conquers populations in failed states. The Muslim Brotherhood, however, exercises control over populations in the cities of the West.” Political tactics will, no doubt, prove to be more efficient than terror. And, where else could one employ them better than in the secular West?

Romania has quite a small Muslim population. Since the state does not provide much for its citizens in terms of welfare, it is not the preferred destination for immigrants. In fact, if anything, it is avoided when possible, as most migrants recently arrived in Europe are seeking the benefits of the more generous Western states, such as Great Britain and Germany. Romania is, therefore, a diverse, yet still quite homogenous and traditional nation, hospitable to other cultures and eager to share with them its tradition but not as eager to erase its own heritage for the benefit of the few. It is a country which values its traditions.

While the Turkish mosque, “mega” or not, coming to Bucharest might not prove to be the beginning of tumultuous relations between Christians and Muslims in the country, questions still remain as to why Romania has not even been offered the reciprocal courtesy of building an Orthodox church in Istanbul, if this is indeed to be viewed as establishing strong interfaith relations between the two countries. There is also the lingering issue of whether or not it would be foolish of Romanian authorities to ignore the possibility of a Muslim Brotherhood Islamization agenda, especially in light of the bloody jihadist attacks taking place throughout the West.


Georgiana Constantin is a law graduate who has studied International, European and Romanian law at the Romanian-American University in Bucharest and presently a political science doctoral candidate at the University of Bucharest. Ms. Constantin, who is based in Romania, is also a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis.