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UK’s oldest Turkish mosque at risk of closure

UK’s oldest Turkish mosque at risk of closure
27.03.2024
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The UK’s oldest Turkish mosque is at risk of closure due to rising costs and a dwindling congregation.

Erkin Güney, the owner of the Masjid Ramadan, in Dalston, north-east London, said the building’s bills have tripled in recent years and he is struggling to cover them alongside rising maintenance costs.

The mosque has received some support from the wider Muslim population but its future is still uncertain.

“Our bills have tripled, costs to maintain the building have soared and we are not collecting enough money,” said Erkin Güney, 59, who runs and owns Masjid Ramadan, also known as the Shacklewell Lane mosque. He said the mosque could be forced to close its doors by next Ramadan.

Monthly costs come in at about £4,000. “We get about £200 to £300 a week if we’re lucky,” he said. He recently received an electricity bill for £17,000.

Explain that  “We are Turkish Cypriots. The congregation either has passed away or moved out. And then 10 or 15 other mosques have opened and we have been ignored.”

The building, a former synagogue built in 1903, had been abandoned by the 1970s. Mr Güney’s father took over the building, creating the UK’s first Turkish mosque.

The mosque is still busy for Friday prayers but has fewer worshippers during the week, partly because its congregation has moved to cheaper areas due to the rising prices in the area, which has undergone heavy gentrification in recent years.

“Our congregation has moved out, moved on. It’s too expensive. They’ve gone to a quieter area,” he said.

 

“The cost of living has played a part. The Low Traffic Neighbourhood has also played a part,” he added, explaining it now takes worshippers much longer to reach the mosque due to road changes, which has put some people off attending altogether.

Mr Güney is considering redeveloping parts of the building into apartments or shops if he cannot raise enough money for its upkeep, which would be a “tragedy”, he said.

“If we could get financial help and backing, or even an interest-free loan, maybe that will help us sustain ourselves, or we have to look at redeveloping the site with a mosque, retail outlets and some apartments. These are the conversations we’ve had with the committee,” he said.

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