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Utah County poised to get its first mosque

Published December 13, 2012 9:41 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Utah County soon may get its first dedicated mosque.

Area Muslims have the land. They have the blueprint. They have Orem's blessing. Now they just need the money.

"At the Planning Commission, there were some people who had some issues with a mosque being there," City Planner Jason Bench said Monday. "But, overall, I don't think there was any issue."

In fact, Bench sees the proposed Islamic Center — along with planned storefronts — at 935 S. State as a welcome addition to the Mormon-dominated city.

"Building the mosque," he said, "would help the community in general in being open to more religions."

And the shops would boost economic development as well.

Talaat Al-Shuqairat, president of the Utah Valley Islamic Center (UVIC), agreed that the project would enrich the area's retail and religious diversity.

"It would be an asset to the community," he said, "to have a Muslim mosque."

Right now, Utah County's relatively small Muslim membership — mostly college students — worships in rented space at Orem's University Mall.

The $1 million project would change that, said Al-Shuqairat, though a permanent mosque could still be years away.

Plans call for first erecting a building with three storefronts, one serving as a temporary Islamic Center. A permanent mosque could open in five to 10 years at the site, he explained, depending on fundraising and profits from the retail shops.

The first phase would cost about $530,000. Al-Shuqairat said the UVIC has raised $130,000 so far and plans to seek more money, including outside of Utah County.

"We are in the process of getting bids for the building," he said.

cimaron@sltrib.com

Twitter: @CimCity