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The Grand Mosque design for Phuket: three sites are being considered

Phuket's Grand Mosque Plan Wins the Governor

Saturday, June 6, 2009
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PLANS for a 200-million baht Grand Mosque project on Phuket are progressing rapidly with support coming from the Governor and three sites already chosen for possible construction.

With US President Barack Obama talking of conciliation between the Muslim world and the West, the island's own large Muslim community is also growing more significant.

Police surgeon Komol Dumlung, a member of the Islamic Phuket Committee, says the Grand Mosque would also include an Islamic school, a hospice for the elderly, office space and a large park.

The Grand Mosque would be capable of holding 500 people. A design has already been approved.

Most Phuket Muslim students once went to the Deep South of Thailand to complete their religious education.

But now, a proper alternative finishing college on the island is the ambition of the local Muslim community.

Three sites are being looked at for the Grand Mosque project:
Koh Kaew, near the existing Islamic school on Thepkrasattri Road, Bang Kanun forest, to the north-west near Nai Yang beach, and Thachatchai, in the island's far north.

The far north has the largest area available, about 100 rai, and would also be easier to access for Muslims from Phang Nga, Krabi and other provinces.

The Islamic Committee of Phuket Thailand is steering the 200 million baht project.

A Grand Mosque of the more elaborate style seen in Indonesia, Malaysia or Brunei would cost about 80 million baht, Dr Komol said.

''We are very happy to have the Governor's support and look forward to achieving great things one day.''

Governor Wichai Praisa-nob believes the Muslim community, which makes up one-third of the island's population, deserves support.

While his tenure will be short because of mandatory retirement, Khun Wichai says he hopes to see the Grand Mosque project underway before he departs.

More than 50 mosques already dot the island. Now many are being rebuilt to a larger scale, with fine examples in Patong and near Ao Po on the east coast, as the Muslim community benefits from the island's increasing prosperity.

Muslims still come and go from the troubled Deep South provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala, with many seeking work in the tourist industry.

But there has never been any trouble further north, especially not on Phuket where Muslims and Buddhists (and now tourists, too) live contentedly as they have done for generations.

Part of the funding for some of the new mosques has come from the Middle East, with tourists from that part of the world finding Phuket more attractive as the quality and availability of halal food improves.

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