Kazakhstan unveils Central Asia's largest mosque

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Associated Press

Posted on July 6, 2012 at 10:02 AM

Updated Friday, Jul 6 at 10:07 AM

ALMATY, Kazakhstan (AP) — The largest mosque in Central Asia has opened in Kazakhstan, just six months after the building was damaged in a fire during which a construction worker died.

President Nursultan Nazarbayev attended the Friday opening of the mosque in the capital, Astana — timed to coincide with the 14th anniversary of the city's foundation.

The mosque spans an area of 17,500 square meters (188,000 square feet), and is topped by a 51-meter (167-foot) central dome and eight smaller domes.

Around 70 percent of the former Soviet nation's 16 million-strong population is Muslim. Most Kazakhs are followers of the Hanafi school of Sunni Islam.

Emergency officials said January's blaze was likely caused by welding equipment that set fire to scaffolding installed beneath the central dome.

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