Muslims living in Slovenia will finally be able to practice their faith the way they want to after the country's first mosque opened its doors in Ljubljana on Monday.
The place of worship has been decades in the making as the initial request to build it was filed back in the 1960s while Slovenia was still part of former Yugoslavia.
The muslim community in the predominantly Christian country received permission to start building the mosque 15 years ago but construction only began in 2013. This is due to the fact that its launching faced obstacles of every kind, including financial hurdles and opposition from the country's right-wing political parties.
Opponents of the project tried to halt it multiple times in 2004 and 2009. However, the nation's constitutional court denied these requests every time.
Despite all the obstacles, Slovenia's muslims, who make up 2.5 percent of the country's 2 million people and are considered its second largest religious group, pressed on and now have something to celebrate.
It took 50 years for them to get a proper mosque to pray in but they never gave up. In the years leading up to the opening, people of the faith were forced to perform prayers and hold religious ceremonies in sports halls or in other rented properties.
Speaking of the transformative moment, head Mufti of the country's Islamic community Nedžad Grabus explained how the mosque's opening constituted a "turning point" in the lives of muslims in Slovenia.
"Slovenia is the last former Yugoslav state to get a mosque, making Ljubljana a capital rather than a provincial town on the edge of the world," he explained during a press conference.
Grabus added that the mosque's construction cost around 34 million euros ($39 million), most of which (28 million euros) were donated by Qatar.
The mosque is designed to be a community center
The mosque can cater to 1,400 people and is surrounded by six buildings that are now host to a full-fledged Islamic Cultural Center.
The area features the "community's offices; an education center, which includes a library; a restaurant; a basketball court; housing for the Muslim clerisy; and a 40-meter (131 feet) high minaret," Arab News reported.
Designed by the Bevk Perović Arhitekti architecture firm, the buildings' design is quite unique. It features blue and white concrete combined with steel, glass, and wood.
Muslims living in Slovenia are excited over the mosque's opening and believe it will help younger generations connect to their faith.