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King Fahd Islamic Center, Buenos Aires. This is the largest mosque in Latin America.

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Islam in Argentina is represented by one of Latin America's largest Muslim minorities. Although accurate statistics on religion are not available (because the national census does not solicit religious data) the actual size of Argentina's Muslim community is estimated around 1.5% of the total population (500,000 to 600,000)[1][2].

Early Muslim immigration

Because of the strong legacy left by Moorish Muslims on the Iberian peninsula, there were Muslims of Moorish and African descent who explored the Americas with Spanish and Portugease explorers[3].

The 20th century saw an influx of Arab migrants to the country, mostly from Syria and Lebanon. It is estimated that today there are about 3.5 million Argentinians of Arab descent.[4] The majority of these Arab immigrants were Christians and Sephardic Jews, and though accurate information is unavailable, probably less than a quarter of Arab migrants were actually Muslim. The descendants of Arab Jews are more likely to identify themselves as Jewish rather than Arab today.

Islamic institutions in Argentina

There is a prominent mosque on Alberti St. in Buenos Aires, in the city center, that was built in 1989 by local Argentine Muslims. There are also several mosques in other cities and regions throughout the country, most notably the Triple Frontier (the tri-border area along the junction of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay).

The King Fahd Islamic Cultural Center, the largest mosque in South America, was completed in 1996 with the help of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, on a piece of land measuring 20,000 m². The total land area granted by the Argentine government measures 34,000 m², and was offered by President Carlos Menem following his visit to Saudi Arabia in 1992. The project cost around US$30 million, and includes a mosque, library, two schools, a park, is located in the middle-class district of Palermo, Buenos Aires.

The Islamic Organization of Latin America (IOLA), headquartered in Argentina, is considered the most active organization in Latin America in promoting Islamic affiliated endeavors. The IOLA holds events to promote the unification of Muslims living in Latin America, as well as the propagation of Islam.

References

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