THE BLOG

Let's Help Build a Mosque in Slovakia

20/08/2015 12:54 BST | Updated 20/08/2016 10:59 BST

Slovakia has demonstrated it's sensitive side when the UN's refugee agency (UNHCR) called on countries to take an "inclusive approach" to relocation of the Syrian refugees. These people have been suffering at the hands of a dictatorial regime which has waged a war against its own people and consequently more than three hundreds thousand Syrians have been killed and millions have been displaced.

In response, Slovakia has offered to share the burden but with some extra conditions. The refugees have to be Christians and definitely not Muslims. "In Slovakia, we don't have mosques," an interior ministry spokesman told the world's media. Therefore, the official said, "we only want to choose the Christians."

Some would say this is discrimination against the Muslims but I would like to give the benefit of the doubt to the Slovakian government. It may be that their understanding of the good samaritan as taught by Jesus is slightly different. The country was being very sensitive to the Muslim refugees, as without a mosque the Muslims will not feel at home. In fact I would like to thank the spokesperson that spoke so candidly about Slovakia's refugee policy especially in regards to the Muslim refugees.

It is far better than the approach Czech Republic or Hungary have taken for example. In the Czech Republic, a group called the bloc against Islam collected 145,000 signatures for a petition against Muslim immigrants. A government spokesperson said, ""refugees from a completely different cultural background would not be in a good position in the Czech Republic".

In Hungary, the current right-wing prime minister wants to build a vast barrier between Hungary and Serbia to stop migrants from entering his country. In a statement last week, the ruling conservative, nationalist party of the Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban said, "left-wing policies have led to illegal immigrants flooding Europe, threatening European countries with an unprecedented social, economic, cultural and security conflict".

I have a personal interest in Czech Republic as my brother in law is from there. I am also connected to Hungary, as my wife is Hungarian. My family members travel to these countries regularly. It worries me extremely to note their irrational hatred towards Muslims. I am sad to watch how some of these former communist countries now are degenerating into states of right-wing extremism's and fascism. For these countries does democracy and freedom mean they have to hate immigrants in general and Muslims in particular? It frightens me to even think about what such hatred could lead to!

But as for Slovakia I admire their honesty and have a very serious proposition for the Slovakian government - I would like to offer to build a mosque in the country. I mean, I would raise the necessary funds to buy a piece of land and build a mosque in a neutral place. I would not ask the Slovakian government to pay a penny towards it. The mosque would provide a prayer space for the Muslims as well as a social and community space for all people regardless of their religious or cultural background. It would be built to be in harmony with the Slovakian architecture and culture.

The question is if we build a mosque in Slovakia would the government change their mind and allow those desperately oppressed and dispossessed Syrian Muslim refugees a refuge in their country? In fact would the government grant us permission to build a mosque in this beautiful country in the first place?

This is a genuine offer from me and I am sure many people from all around the world would join me in this noble endeavour too. I am not proposing building mosques in every towns and cities; I am only proposing to build one mosque for all the Muslims who live in Slovakia.

People do not become refugees by choice; it is circumstances beyond their control that forces them to seek refuge in places where they can find safety and security. It is the primordial and existential drive that makes people cross continents and dangerous seas to save their lives and the lives of their loved ones. The least we could do is extend them our arms of compassion. That is what makes us human!