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Arts/Culture

New Niagara Falls mosque to give city Muslims a formal place of worship

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The Muslim community in Niagara Falls will soon have a brand new mosque. The $1 million project was approved by the city’s planning board at a meeting this past week.Dr. Mohammed Ahmed is leading the effort. He is an oncologist and medical director for the Roswell Park Hematology and Oncology in Niagara County. Ahmed said the mosque will be a force for faith, education and outreach.

Niagara Falls mayor Paul Dyster is on board with the project.

“Over the years I’ve periodically attended various community outreach events that they’ve done trying to introduce themselves to the larger community here,” he told WBFO. “Freedom of worship is one of the basic foundations of the United States of America and we try to welcome people of different religious views here in Niagara Falls.”

The mosque will be built on the corner of Pierce Avenue and 18th Street. The 200-member community has been worshipping in a storefront building across the street for more than a decade. Dyster compared the growing Muslim population to its Catholic population when it first arrived.

“I think when the first Catholics came to the city of Niagara Falls that was something that was regarded as an oddity and I’m sure our religious services were a bit unfamiliar here top the largely protestant population that was here before that,” he said.

Niagara Falls is a top tourism destination and Dyster says he wants the city to continue its reputation as a welcoming community.

“We’re an international city, we have visitors of all different races, creeds and colors coming here all year long. And we want to be certain that in terms of our residents that we’re very welcoming as well,” the mayor added.

The new mosque will include a mezzanine as well as basketball and volleyball courts. Construction is estimated to take a year-and-a-half.