After decades of debate, Turkey starts building mosque in Istanbul square

Source: Reuters

By Melih Aslan and Osman Orsal | ISTANBUL

Construction began on Friday of a mosque in Istanbul’s central Taksim square, a controversial project championed by Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan but mired in years of court battles and public debate.

Cranes moved into the site and first cement was poured at a modest ground-breaking ceremony on the edge of the square, long a rallying point for demonstrations, as riot police with armoured vehicles and water cannon stood guard.

The square was at the heart of large anti-government protests in June 2013, when hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to protest a plan to build a replica Ottoman barracks on the adjoining Gezi park.

Plans for a mosque at Taksim have been discussed for decades, with supporters arguing there are not enough Muslim places of worship close to one of the city’s busiest hubs.

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