Less than a week after stating its intention to build Jakarta’s first grand mosque in more than 30 years, the administration of Governor Joko Widodo revealed on Saturday that it was already looking for the land and could begin construction next year.
Deputy Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama said the mosque needed to be at least as big as Istiqlal Grand Mosque in Central Jakarta, which was completed in 1978 and covers 95,000 square meters.
“Once we get suitable land of the right size, we can start building the mosque immediately,” he said, adding that the new house of worship would be located in West Jakarta.
“We hope to be able to start construction sometime next year.”
He added the administration wanted to prioritize using land that was currently abandoned or considered of low value to others.
“We would prefer to use land that’s of little current use to others, but which can be developed to have a very high value,” Basuki said.
He cited the example of the city’s Islamic Center, which was built in the former red-light district of Kramat Tunggak in North Jakarta.
The idea for the new mosque was first raised on Oct. 21 by Joko, who pointed out that the city did not have a grand mosque of its own, given that Istiqlal was considered the “national mosque” and fell under the purview of the central government.
“Every other district, city and province in the country has its own grand mosque, except Jakarta,” Basuki said.
He added that in addition to its symbolic importance, the new mosque was also expected to help boost the local economy.