Exeter mosque costing £1.7m opens
A new £1.7m mosque has opened in Exeter.
Devon County Council said the mosque, which took three years to build, was needed because of the city's growing Muslim population.
It has been paid for with money raised by trustees and the Muslim community.
Those behind the project said they hoped the mosque, which received planning permission in 2000, will help raise awareness of the religion and attract thousands of visitors.
There are currently mosques in Plymouth and Torbay, but this is the first to be built using the traditional Islamic minarets.
A spokesperson from the board of trustees said: "Planning permission was granted in 2000 and with strenuous efforts by the trustees and the Muslim community, funds were raised and the work was started in 2008.
"We are delighted by the finished building."
About 3,000 Muslims live in the city, with thousands more across the South West.
Imam Mohammed Abrar said he hoped it would attract thousands of Muslims and increase the understanding of Islam in the wider community.
Jonathan Marshall, of the Centre of Faiths and Cultural Diversity in Plymouth, said: "This particular development enriches us all because it brings an opportunity for everyone, and particularly young people, to encounter the Muslim faith community.
"There is still a very significant misunderstanding and a stereotype of the faith often connected with negative imagery.
"Having a mosque is a wonderful opportunity for people to encounter the true heart and true faith of Islam."
Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police, Stephen Otter, who was at the official opening, said it was "extremely important" for the city.
He said: "What's very interesting is that mosques in the South West have a very strong tradition of being very much part of the wider community; and, with churches as well, they're very important in bringing people together."
The mosque includes an elaborate dome, minaret and hall for daily prayers and Friday sermons.
The building also contains a large community hall which will be available for local events and activities.