By Yousef Al-Tattan

WASHINGTON, Feb 5 Kuwait has been seen as the definition of a moderate Islamic society that promotes peace and has always sought to raise profile of Muslims in various parts of the world.

Kuwait has recently donated one million US dollars, for the establishment of an Islamic centre in the state of Utah, located in the American West. The area is known for its conservative society, which makes it a distinct destination for Muslim families around the world.

More than 40,000 Muslims currently live in the state, which has six Islamic centres directed towards various Muslim communities. But these centres are concentrated in the capital, Salt Lake City, located in southern Utah, where great services are offered to the Islamic community, including places for congregational prayers, lessons in Arabic language and Islamic religion.

Funeral services also became available after these centres purchased land in the public cemetery.

In this sense, Consul General of Kuwait in Los Angeles, Abdulatif Yahya, said in a statement to Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) that, “Kuwait and its government are interested in promoting tolerance and the exchange of cultures all over the world, especially the United States.”

Kuwait believes that the project will benefit thousands of Muslims in Utah, especially Kuwaiti and the Gulf students there, he said, hinting that, such an approach is encouraged by the Kuwaiti leadership, namely the Amir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, recently designated by the UN as a “humanitarian leader,” in gratitude for abundant philanthropic aid to nations and communities outside Kuwait.

KUNA met with the Director for the North Utah Islamic Centre, Mohammed Alnajar, who explained that, establishment of the centre came directly after the events of Sept, 2001, in order to convey the Islamic religion as one which rejects violence, promotes peaceful coexistence between civilisations and respect for other religions, Alnajar said.

He added that, the number of Muslims in the north of the state, namely in Ogden, has been growing — including 4,000 from various Arab states and hundreds of students from Gulf countries.

Alnajar indicated in this respect that, the centre’s space could no longer accommodate the rising number of Muslims in need for its services, such as attending Koranic classes and performing prayers.

In recognition of Kuwait’s continuous support for Muslim communities around the world, he announced the non-profit organisation will now be officially known as the Kuwait Islamic Centre in Utah.

He explained that the centre, 18.4 hectares (about 75,000 square metres) of space, includes a church, nuns’ houses and other affiliate facilities and chambers.The land and buildings, licensed by the US Administration, is appropriate to host religious rituals.

The complex was originally a monastery, before being turned into an Islamic centre. The monastery was built in 1999 as a green building or environmentally friendly, in terms of energy consumption in general with the latest modern technology.