Algeria's ambition to host the world's third largest mosque was realised on Sunday when work commenced on the foundations. When completed the North-African mosque will be the largest outside Saudi Arabia.
The $1.3 billion project is referred to as Algiers Mega-Mosque and will be able to accommodate 120,000 worshippers when finished in 2015. The minaret will soar 880 feet above the Bay of Algiers. According to Construction Weekly the idea for the mosque is President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's ambition to "leave his mark" on the country.
The construction contract was won by China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) in February 2012. When the contract was awarded, Algeria's Religious Affairs Minister Bouabdallah Ghlamallah announced, "There will be nothing like it in the world - religiously, touristically and economically."
Algeria Solidarity Campaign reported "the vast majority of the population mocks the investment and deplores the waste of national resources" which ASC depicts as a "politically-motivated" investment and an "abuse of national funds."
In November 2011 the Algerian government closed 900 mosques and prayer halls, believing they were being used for meetings by members of the Algerian originated terrorist group Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).