Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov on Sunday dedicated a multi-million dollar mega-mosque built with Chechen donations in the Arab village of Abu Ghosh, just west of Jerusalem.
Kadyrov, a former separatist who is now an ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin, was in Israel mainly for the mosque ceremony and, according to material sent by the GPO, did not have a meeting scheduled with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Kadyrov said on Sunday that it was an honor to visit “this good and holy land” during a stop in Abu Ghosh.
The mosque was constructed at a cost of NIS 35 million ($10 million), out of which Chechnya contributed $6 million. The land on which the mosque sits, 3.5 dunams (0.86 acres), was donated by the Israel Land Administration. The Chechen government also donated NIS 5 million for a skate park in west Jerusalem’s Liberty Bell Park.
A press conference with Kadyrov scheduled for Sunday afternoon in Jerusalem was abruptly canceled without explanation.
Construction on the mosque, known as “the Mosque of Peace,” began in 2011, Abu Ghosh Mayor Salim Jaber told The Times of Israel last May. He said the municipality decided to construct a new mosque to accommodate local worshipers, who have been forced to pray on the sidewalks on Fridays and holidays for lack of prayer space in the town.
While the old Abu Ghosh mosque was only 150 square meters (1,615 square feet) in size, the new mosque will spread out over 4,000 square meters (43,000 square feet), and will hold thousands of worshipers.
The four clans that comprise Abu Ghosh trace their origins to the Caucasus, from which they claim to have emigrated in the 16th century.
Kadyrov, a supporter of Putin, last month offered to send soldiers to Ukraine following the social uprising which toppled its pro-Russian president, calling the revolutionaries “bandits and terrorists.”
The street on which the Abu Ghosh mosque is located is named after Kadyrov’s father, former Chechen president Akhmad Kadyrov, assassinated by Chechen Islamists in a car bomb in 2004.
Despite the association by some of Chechnya with radical Islam — especially following the Boston terrorist attacks perpetrated by Chechen brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev — Mayor Jaber insisted that his mosque will espouse only peace and tolerance.
“This mosque is for Allah. It will be neither fanatic, nor inciting,” Jaber said. “I want to invite all the people of Israel to the opening: rabbis, priests, sheikhs. Anyone who loves Abu Ghosh.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.