http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/world/barcelona-s-bullring-may-become-europe-s-biggest-mosque/article/387555

Barcelona's bullring may become Europe's biggest mosque

Posted Jun 24, 2014 by Anne Sewell
Bullfighting was banned in Catalonia in 2010. Since then the bullring in Barcelona has been standing mostly empty. Now Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the ruling Emir of Qatar, is offering to convert the building into the biggest mosque in Europe.
Monumental bullring in Barcelona  Spain
Monumental bullring in Barcelona, Spain
Sergi Larripa
La Monumental bullring was opened back in 1914 and was used not only for bullfighting, but also featured music concerts including famous acts like The Beatles, Bob Marley, Bruce Springsteen and the Rolling Stones, among others. Since 2010 when the regional government of Catalonia banned bullfighting, the building has basically been used as a museum and is gathering dust.
The Sheikh has apparently offered to invest 2.2 billion euros ($2.99 billion) over a five-year period, with which to convert Barcelona's La Monumental into a 40,000-capacity mosque. Apparently the building would feature a 300-meter minaret, which would be the third-largest in the world outside of Mecca and Medina. The building would also include a Koran study center, housing up to 300 persons, a conference hall and a museum of Islamic art and history.
According to the Spanish daily newspaper 20 Minutos, sources close to the project state that the current owners of the building, the Balaña Group, have already agreed to the sale. The next stage will be to secure agreement by the city council to the deal. However, this has not, apparently, been confirmed by the Balaña group.
Surprisingly, despite a sizeable Muslim community, Barcelona is the only major city in Europe to not currently have a mosque. While a number of mosques have been planned in the past, none ever reached the construction stage. Apparently back in 2004 there was talk of the city's other bullring, Las Arenas, being converted into a mosque, with the project to be funded by Saudi Arabia, but this plan apparently failed. Once the bullfighting plan was in place, the building became a shopping center instead.
According to Mowafak Kanfach, who owns Barcelona's Arabic Book Shop, "The law says that everyone has the right to pray in a dignified place, not in a commercial premises."
Speaking to 20 Minutos of the conversion of Monumental into a mosque, Kanfach said, "Locals would have to be proud that Muslims transformed the pain of the bulls into a spiritual center," adding, "It would be a great tourist attraction."
Spanish Sources
20 Minutos
RT - Spanish
The Local