ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Alaska’s first mosque has risen quietly over the last few years in a gravel lot in a South Anchorage commercial district, a neighbor to a Korean Presbyterian church, a couple of auto repair garages, a drive-through Chinese restaurant and a Sons of Norway hall.
A few weeks ago, Sam Obeidi, vice president of the Islamic Community Center Anchorage Alaska, turned a key and pushed open the mosque’s door, flipping on a light in a hallway that smelled of drywall plaster and new carpet.
Palestinian by birth, Obeidi came to Alaska as a teenager to join his father, a refugee, who settled in Anchorage in the 1960s. In those days, Muslims met and prayed in his father’s home. Obeidi’s family now owns a frame shop and gallery. He has been involved with the mosque-building project for the last five years of an effort that began 15 years ago.
Anchorage Muslims have so far raised $2 million to build the 15,000-square-foot facility, and must raise $1 million more before the prayer hall is completed and two minarets are placed on the mosque’s roof.