The foundation stone of Slovenia's first mosque was laid at a former industrial site in the capital Ljubljana, more than four decades since the first official petition was submitted by Muslims seeking their own place of worship, reports Reutors.
The initiative has been beset by administrative hurdles and a lack of political will in the mainly Catholic country of two million people, of which some 50,000 are Muslims.
"We are happy to be starting this civic project in Ljubljana, which will thus become a better-known and a more pluralistic city," Mufti Nedzad Grabus, the highest representative of Slovenia's Islamic community, told the ceremony.
Construction of the mosque is expected to begin in earnest in November and is projected to take three years at a cost of some 12 million euros (10.0 million pounds). The Islamic community will foot most of the cost, thanks to a large donation it expects from Qatar.
As reported earlier, the proposal for a mosque had been held up by reluctant local officials, some of whom tried to force a referendum on the matter in 2004.
Some 12,000 people signed a petition calling for a plebiscite, but Slovenia's Constitutional Court ruled it would be unconstitutional on the grounds of religious freedom.