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Mosque opens near Bern minus a spire

A new Turkish-Islamic centre and mosque officially opened in a former wine shop outside the Swiss capital, Bern, on Saturday. Workers plan to build no minaret.

About 300 people attended the opening ceremonies for the centre in Ostermundigen, a village of about 15,000 people east of the city. Local religious leaders were there, including Gabi Bachmann, head of the Guthirt Catholic parish rectory.

“After the vote on minarets, it was important that we draw closer to one another,” Bachmann said in a speech, referring to a controversial nationwide vote that banned the construction of new minarets.

“This is a very important day for us,” echoed Hasan Irmak, head of the Turkish-Islamic Association of Bern. He added the centre’s doors are open to everyone. “We wish for a good relationship with our neighbours.”

Irmak said it “would have been nice” but not necessary to have a minaret on the building, particularly to give the mosque a characteristic look.

From the outside the building looks nothing like a place of worship. Only the interior was renovated to include two large rooms, including one for women. The rooms are for praying and religious instruction.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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