February 7, 2016

2274 MAURITANIA - The mosques of Nouakchott

2274 Nouakchott: Grand Mosque; Moroccan Mosque; Friday Mosque.

The people of  Mauritania are nearly all adherents of Sunni Islam of Maliki school of jurisprudence, influenced with Sufism, and because of the ethnic and tribal divisions in the country, religion is seen by the government as essential for national unity. Since independence in 1960, Mauritania has been an Islamic republic, and the Constitutional Charter of 1985 declares Islam the state religion and sharia the law of the land. It is one of thirteen countries in the world which punishes atheism by death.

Nouakchott was a small village on the shores of the Atlantic until 1958, when it was chosen as the capital of the nascent nation of Mauritania. It was designed and built to accommodate 15,000 people, but the city experienced a huge urban growth, such that it had an estimated population of 2 million in 2008, despite the official figures being under a million. As a result, the majority of the buildings are rather utilitarian, and less artistic, only few of them maintaining the traditional Berber style of architecture.

The city's skyline is dominated by the Grand Mosque, also known as the Mosque Saudique because it was donated by Saudi Arabia. The beautiful building has an imposing entrance portico with ogival arches and crenelation, and is topped with slender minarets. Further south is Moroccan Mosque, donated by Morroco, with an arched gate and a square minaret ornated with zellidj tiles, inspired by the Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakesh. Another important mosque is the Friday Mosque, notable for its blindingly white façade.

About the stamp
The stamp is part of the series Marine Species of Mauritania, about which I wrote here.

Sender: Tianzi Yi
Sent from Nouakchott (Mauritania), on 11.08.2014 

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