Second mosque in Luqa estate, ‘bands’ area moves to Marsa

Islamic organisation granted land in Luqa industrial estate to vacate Ospizio site

Muslim worshippers who for years have lamented the lack of an alternative place of worship in Malta, have been proposed an industrial plot in Luqa for the creation of a religious and cultural hub.

The mosque, meeting rooms, administrative offices, and administrative offices on a 2,142sq.m plot in Luqa’s industrial estate are being offered to the Islamic Solidarity Malta organisation, instead of a temporary site of worship at L’Ospizio, in Floriana.

The plot will be entrusted by way of a ‘commodatum’ (temporary possession) to Islamic Solidarity Malta, to continue exercising faith and socio-cultural activities after they vacate the Knights-era Ospizio in Haywharf, which has been used for prayers since 2016.

Back then the government had reached an agreement with a part of the Muslim community in Malta, granting them an outdoors area within the Ospizio to hold Friday prayers in an open space until a permanent location is found for a new mosque. The agreement was reached after Muslims started to gather in Msida outside the church parvis, after having been evicted from several meeting places around the island due to a lack of planning permits. A request to change the use of a large garage in Santa Venera for worship had also been denied.

Now the ministry for arts and government agency Festivals Malta want to free the Ospizio to facilitate the completion of the Malta International Contemporary Arts (MICAS) complex.

Instead the Islamic organization, which does not worship at the Paola mosque, is being granted temporary possession of land in Luqa on which the Planning Authority had already approved a cultural hub for a theatre, external performance space and rehearsal spaces for Maltese bands. But that site will now be incorporated in a proposed arts and cultural complex in Marsa proposed by Festivals Malta.

Festivals Malta instead allocated the Luqa site to the ministry’s Stores and Maintenance Division, downscaling plans to alter and existing warehouse, to instead provide staff rooms and ancillary facilities to the Islamic community.

The requisite planning permits will still be required for a minaret rising to 20m.

The need for a second mosque has been a pressing one for the past years as the number of Muslims, both foreign and Maltese nationals, has grown in the past years.

Muslims are expected to pray five times a day and Friday prayers are conducted collectively. Muslims who spoke to this newspaper have also pointed out that it is has become impossible to accommodate so many people in one mosque.