Former football star Fred Oumar Kanoute has raised $1m in an online crowdfunding campaign to build the first purpose-built mosque and cultural centre in Seville, Spain, in over 700 years.
Kanoute, a French-born Muslim with a Malian background who previously played for Sevilla FC, started the campaign a year ago on LaunchGood, a crowdfunding platform focused on the global Muslim community.
“Thank you and may Allah reward for you for all those who participated in the campaign,” Kanoute tweeted on Tuesday.
Kanoute 4 Seville Mosque will collect any additional funds raised by May 27. The estimated cost of the project is near 12 million euros ($13.1m).
Last year, Kanoute teamed up with the Seville Mosque Foundation (SMF).
“When I arrived there [Seville], it was very difficult to find a mosque. I had to ask people,” Kanoute, who converted to Islam at 20, told Al Jazeera.
The Seville Muslim community was a “beautiful mix” including Spanish converts, second-generation Spanish Muslims, and people from Algeria, Morocco, Senegal and Malian background, he said.
Spain has an estimated two million Muslims, with around 30,000 living in Seville.
In 2007, Kanoute, a Spanish and UEFA cup winner, bought a musalla, or prayer space, in Seville that was on the verge of closing down after the contract of the premises was set to expire. Kanoute has previously described that space as a “temporary mosque”.
The $1m project promises to be larger and more permanent.
“He is a very highly respected figure in Seville not only for his football but how he is as a person,” Ibrahim Hernandez, the SMF director.
“When you have someone like Oumar beside you, people want to hear your stories, they want to know about you, what you are doing,” he added.
Aside from holding prayers, the mosque and cultural centre put on workshops for the local community on subjects such as childbirth, Andalusian arts and cooking.
A health clinic providing primary care for the local population is also planned, along with Arabic and Quran classes for children.