New mosque in Ciudad del Este: fears of future violence.

Image of the future mosque (and construction) in Ciudad del Este. h/t: Última Hora
A new mosque and cultural center is being built in Ciudad del Este (Paraguay). The cornerstone was laid this morning in a construction project that's estimated to take another year and a half. The building, which is located a little less than two miles west of Ciudad del Este's commercial center, is likely to prove controversial on a number of levels.

The area surrounding Ciudad del Este, the Triple Frontier where Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay meet is home to a sizable Lebanese-Syrian population (some 3% of the total population in the region) which has come under international scrutiny. The security concerns are that the community in the Triple Frontier is connected to Islamic terrorist groups and provides financing/shelter/logistical support for violence in South America and beyond. The construction of a new mosque, financed entirely by the local community, might seem like a reaffirmation of this.

Última Hora, an important Paraguayan newspaper, reported on the cornerstone-laying ceremony that took place today and the user comments are fascinating. The majority (all written in Spanish, presumably by Paraguayans) are upset with the new mosque because they see it as an example of Muslim expansion into a Christian country: "Very bad. What lack of respect. They kill Catholics. Why let them build a mosque in a country that is 98% Catholic?" Another commentator worries that this will serve as a pretext for foreign military intervention: "This puts us in the sights of the gringos, so that they'll invade us in the future under the pretext of 'a hotbed of Arab terrorism' in order to get hold of our natural resource: water. Careful!" 

It'll be interesting to see how this conflict unfolds.

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