Arctic mosque opens its doors

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OTTAWA: The Canadian Arctic’s first mosque opened on Wednesday in Inuvik to serve as spiritual home to the area’s fledgling Islamic community, a mosque committee member said by telephone from Inuvik.

The mosque arrived in the small northern town last month after traveling 4,000 kilometers (2,485 miles) over land and water.

Several journalists, including Arab television reporters joined local Muslims for its grand opening.

The number of Muslims in the town of 4,000 inhabitants in Canada’s Northwest Territories has grown steadily in recent years to about 80. They had prayed in a three-by-seven-meter (10-by-23-foot) caravan until they could no longer fit.

The new mosque, dubbed the "little mosque on the tundra" by Canadian media, boasts a main hall with red carpets, a kitchen and a library, said mosque committee member Amer Suliman.

"The sky is grey, but the light from the mosque and the minaret is bright, it’s not too cold outside and guests are flocking here," he told AFP.

The congregation had a prefabricated building shipped from Manitoba, where prices for labor and materials are substantially lower than in northern parts of Canada.

At the end of August the little yellow mosque’s voyage began on the back of truck, winding through the vast prairies and woods of Western Canada toward Hay River on the shores of Great Slave Lake, Northwest Territories.

From there it was transferred onto a barge and floated down the McKenzie River to Inuvik, about 200 kilometers (124 miles) north of the Arctic Circle.

A 30-foot (10-meter) minaret was built locally.

The worshippers are largely Sunni Muslim immigrants from Sudan, Lebanon and Egypt who moved to Canada’s far north in search of jobs and economic opportunities.

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