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First mosque in Western Isles opens in time for Ramadan

Local Muslims raised nearly £60,000 to convert a derelict house into an Islamic centre.

Stornoway: The mosque before its transformation.
Stornoway: The mosque before its transformation.

The first mosque in the Western Isles has opened its doors ahead of Ramadan.

Local Muslims raised nearly £60,000 to convert a derelict house in the centre of Stornoway into an Islamic centre.

The mosque has received widespread support on Lewis, which has been home to a small Muslim population since at least the 1940s.

There were no objections on religious grounds when the plan was approved by the island council in 2017. However, concerns were raised about parking.

The mosque said they were recently approached by a non-Muslim resident of Stornoway who donated £500 to their cause.

"This goes along way to show the love and support we have been receiving from the people of Stornoway," a spokesman said.

Before and after: The house has been transformed.
Before and after: The house has been transformed. Stornoway Mosque

The Western Isles remain staunchly Christian and the islands of Lewis and Harris both have large Presbyterian communities. Many businesses do not open on Sundays and a row erupted in 2009 when ferry firm CalMac began sailing on the Sabbath.

The 26 refugees who have settled on Lewis are among 1800 people who have found new homes in Scotland after fleeing Syria.

After the mosque was approved by the council a local church urged people to pray "no mosque would ever appear in Stornoway", despite insisting it has "nothing against individual Muslims".

Ramadan - the holiest month in the Muslim calendar - starts on May 16 this year and ends on June 14.

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