Turkey will be the first country to build a mosque in Cuba where a small Muslim community thrives. The TDV, an affiliate of Turkey's state-run Presidency of Religious Affairs (DİB), opened a masjid in the Cuban capital of Havana.
The masjid is located inside a historical building allocated for the use of Muslims, and it is the first time that Muslims of Cuba have had a proper prayer place for themselves. The country only has a building acting as a mosque for non-Cuban Muslims, while the country's local Muslim community is not allowed in. Since there is no official religion in the country, faith groups had not been allowed to build temples for a long time until the regime sanctioned a Russian Orthodox church. The mosque will be the second such religious site.
İsmail Palakoğlu, the head of the TDV, said that the 200-square-meter masjid would remain open until the inauguration of the planned mosque. He says it is the first time that Muslims in the country are able to perform congregational prayers, such as Friday prayers and tarawih, which must be performed in a proper mosque. Previously, only a very small fraction of Cuban Muslims, whose total number is estimated to be around 4,000, were performing prayers in the house of a Muslim community leader.
The DİB, which oversees mosques in Turkey, has already constructed more than 100 mosques around the world with construction ongoing in 38 different locations.
Turkey has been widely embraced by Muslims since the government improved relations with Muslim countries and Muslim populations around the world in an effort to boost its soft power. The DİB is involved in the construction of mosques from the United States to Somalia, from Russia to the Philippines.