Kaunas mosque

Jonas: "The mosque that previously belonged to National M. K. Čiurlionis Museum was returned to Tartars in 1990. Someone had to overtake it, and there was no one who could do it. So, this is how I became the head of the community. My activities were mostly related to the mosque, its installation, exploitation and fund-raising. The building had grey walls, sealed windows and did not have any floor. The museum did not use the mosque, but before giving it back to us, it was renewed.

At the beginning, people would actively join the community life. Most were affected by the mood of Sąjūdis. We established a Sunday school at the mosque, with Arabic students as teachers. It was active approximately from 1993 to 2000. My son learned to read in Arabic there as well. We organised summer camps for children. Later the enthusiasm disappeared. To this day, we host meetings, conferences; since 1995, we have been publishing a newspaper “Lietuvos totoriai” (Lithuanian Tartars).

Religion is important to Tartars. Even though we did not have a priest in Kaunas quite for a long time. In 1992, the first Arabic students came from Lebanon. They were very active religious matters. They overtook these functions and sometimes even would quarrel about it. These Lebanese suggested that we should send a young person to Lebanon to study and become a priest. The one who did it was Romas Jakubauskas, a resident of Kaunas who was 20 at that time. When he came back in 2000, he overtook the duties of the priest in Kaunas Mosque. To this day, Romas Jakubauskas is the spiritual leader of Lithuanian Muslim community. At this moment, the religious Muslim community of Kaunas is governed by an Egyptian who arrived from Turkey. The main visitors of the mosque today are not local Tartars but the newcomers. During the Bairam celebrations, so many people gather, that they cannot all fit inside and have to put they prayer rugs outside." (2018)

Full interview with Jonas here.