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Thu 15 May 2008 02:05 AM

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Gov't to bulldoze neglected mosques

UAE to close down neglected and unhygienic places of worship in new beautification drive.

The UAE is to bulldoze or shut down neglected and unhygienic mosques in a campaign to improve standards in the country’s religious buildings, officials said on Wednesday.

In a year-long crackdown, ‘Caravan mosques’ will be replaced by new structures following concerns that dirty buildings are responsible for the spread of disease, President of the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments Hamdan Muslim Al-Mazrouei told UAE daily The National.

Spot checks will be carried out at several mosques on Saturday, while a sermon delivered on Thursday would focus on cleanliness and comfort, Al-Mazrouei said.

“We’re approaching this beautification initiative from different angles,” general manager of the authority Mohammed Matar Al-Kaabi told The National.

“We want to ensure an external façade to mosques that combines tradition with local aesthetic. And we want modern and comfortable interiors to mosques that [are] always kept clean.”

New buildings will be expected to provide air-conditioned bathrooms and access for disabled worshippers, while facilities for women would also be overhauled, the officials said.