An Atlanta television news station, WSB, reported that "the State Department is sending millions of dollars to save mosques overseas. This investment has received criticism as the United States makes an effort to slash nearly $4 trillion in government spending." The anchor noted that the U.S. Agency for International Development has granted copious funds for mosques in Cairo, Cyprus, Tajikistan and Mali.
A USAID official spoke with FactCheck.org and confirmed that about $2.3 million was used on the Cairo mosque "to help lower the groundwater at the mosque area, replacing the old sewage collector and providing a healthier environment for people living in the area." In addition to the money given for that 1,000-year-old mosque, more than $15 million was given by the U.S. and the Egyptian government to restore a 1,300-year-old mosque, a Roman tower, a Greek Orthodox church and other buildings. And in Cyprus, $5 million in U.S. federal funds was granted to restore a mosque and a Greek Orthodox monastery. FactCheck.org went on to confirm that the Mali and Tajikistan mosque projects involved funding for computer equipment. Though USAID won't specify exactly how much of its money in 2010 went to mosques, the agency says it committed $18.8 billion for all of its global projects.
The Associated Press reported that since the beginning of last year, the Obama administration has doled out $6 million of taxpayers' money to restore or preserve 63 historical, religious and cultural sites, including mosques and minarets, in 55 nations under the guise of "Cultural Affairs" and "Cultural Preservation 2010 Awards," and they include:
--$50,437 for conservation of Sunderwala Burj, a 16th-century Islamic monument in New Delhi.
--$76,135 for the restoration of the 16th-century Grand Mosque in China, with one of the longest histories and largest premises in the world.
--$67,500 for the restoration of the mid-18th-century Sunehri Masjid (Golden Mosque) in Lahore, Pakistan.
--$77,619 to restore minarets (tall slender towers attached to mosques) in Nigeria and Mauritania.
--$80,035 for the restoration of the 18th-century Sultan Palace of Ujumbe in Mutsamudu, Comoros, with its highly ornate ceilings featuring Arabo-Islamic calligraphy and designs.
--$30,393 for the restoration of the fort at Lamu, Kenya, a significant center for the study of Islamic and Swahili cultures where Muslim religious festivals have been hosted since the 19th century.
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