Searching for a place of worship

Fundraisers: Philippe Saint-Pere and wife Maznah Abu Hassan

Queenstown’s Muslim community just want a place of their own.

And with nearly $170,000 already pledged by generous donors, they’re well on their way – if they can find somewhere in the resort’s competitive property market.

Philippe Saint-Pere launched a fundraising campaign in May to raise money for the purchase of a site or building to be used as a mosque for the local Muslim community.

“We can see there are a lot of different churches and places of worship, but there’s no mosque,” he says.

“It’s important, just like other places of worship, to have a place for the community to eat, to teach the children about the religion, and also to invite non-Muslims as well to learn about Islam.”

There are about 70 permanent members of the Muslim community living in Queenstown, he says, but it’s not just locals who will benefit from having a place to worship.

Many Muslim tourists contact members of the local community to ask if there’s a place to pray in the resort, he says. Friday prayers are held in a church hall they rent.

A Douglas Street site had been seriously considered earlier in the year, with the community offering $200,000 more than the asking price to secure it.

But the current tenants had the option to extend their lease through to 2022, which they took, Saint-Pere says. They’re now on the hunt for another suitable site – and ideally, one zoned for a place of worship.

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