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Community celebrates opening of new Islamic mosque in Canberra's north

Mainul Haque stands in front of Gungahlin Mosque
Mainul Haque says the entire project has been funded by community donations.

ABC Radio Canberra: Hannah Walmsley

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After almost two decades' of planning, Canberra's Islamic community will come together this weekend to celebrate the opening of the city's new mosque in Gungahlin.

"It has been a long, drawn-out, exhausting process," Canberra Muslim community president Mainul Haque said.

"Finally we got there."

It is expected the mosque will serve between 5,000 and 6,000 members of the Islamic community living in the city's north.

"Back when we first started planning, we only had a few families from our community in Gungahlin, but we knew this part of town was going to grow substantially," Mr Haque said.

Canberra's first mosque in Yarralumla was built in 1962 for a capacity of 300 worshippers.

Planners meet outside of Gungahlin mosque.
The Islamic community has plans to continue developing the site as it finds funds to realise its complete project.

ABC Radio Canberra: Hannah Walmsley

During the construction phase, the Islamic community in Gungahlin met for prayer in a demountable shed on The Valley Avenue site.

"The project has been funded by donations from within our community," Mr Haque said.

"We haven't had any money from government except for the land that we got from the Government.

"We are very, very thankful to previous chief ministers John Stanhope and Katy Gallagher for being instrumental in helping us get the land."

Upstairs inside the Gungahlin mosque
Almost $2 million has been donated by the local Islamic community to build the mosque.

ABC Radio Canberra: Hannah Walmsley

Mr Haque said united support from local politicians had helped to keep the project moving forward.

A group fighting to prevent the mosque being built launched legal action in 2012, claiming there was inadequate community consultation, traffic and parking issues, and breaches of building codes.

Flyers issued by the group to many homes in the Gungahlin area raised concerns about traffic and noise and whether the mosque would be a good neighbour to the community.

But the Concerned Citizens of Canberra took their appeal to the Supreme Court after the ACT Government declared support for the mosque and referred the flyer to the ACT Human Rights Commission.

The group had its challenge thrown out by the court in 2014 and again in 2015, with the judge labelling the group a "busybody".

A temporary demountable building
A temporary shed has been used as the community's place of worship during the construction phase.

ABC Radio Canberra: Hannah Walmsley

The Muslim community has extended an invitation to "people of all faiths and traditions" to attend the weekend opening.

"It's a community place, not only a place of worship but a place of learning and social gathering," Mr Haque said.

"There will be face painting and a jumping castle — it'll be an event for the family.

"We will have a guided tour for everyone who comes along."

The mosque will be open to the public between 10:00am and 3:00pm on Sunday.