Algeria’s Abdelaziz Bouteflika may be gone, but his unfinished Great Mosque of Algiers, some say, symbolizes his 20-year reign, as well as his megalomania.
Sitting on the Bay of Algiers, when finished it will be the third the largest mosque in the world, and the largest in Africa.
It will also house the world’s tallest minaret at 265 metres.
The initial cost of the project was at 1.2 billion euros, but it has already superseded that price tag and construction, launched by a Chinese company in 2012, is already more than three years behind schedule.
Bouteflika financed the ambitious project using the country’s vast oil wealth.
But as one exasperated Algerian noted to the French news agency AFP, “there are mosques every 500 metres in this country, we didn’t need that”.
Indded, Algeria has more than 20,000 mosques.
Mosques over hospitals
With a population of 40 million, the National Agency for Health Institutions noted in 2015 that Algeria’s university hospitals date back to colonial times.
Most are even a century old.
Throughout Bouteflika’s time in power, many health workers regularly denounced the lack of medical staff and equipment in public hospitals, noting that money regularly spent on mosques would have been better used to improve health services.
Right now on social media, many are calling for this new mosque to be turned into Algeria’s largest hospital instead.
A University at Buffalo student is in critical condition after a possible hazing incident involving a college fraternity, prompting the president of the western New York school to suspend all Greek life activities.
The incident, which happened overnight Thursday, took place at the Sigma Pi house, according to WKBW-TV in Buffalo.
The Buffalo Police Department said it is investigating the matter and that a student was rushed to the hospital with a “serious medical condition” believed to be the result of the incident of “potential hazing.”
The university Saturday identified the student as Sebastian Serafin-Bazan, an 18-year-old freshman from Port Chester, New York. He’s currently a patient at Buffalo General Hospital. The school said it can’t provide an update of his condition because of federal privacy laws that protect patients.
“Out of respect for the family’s privacy, the university will have no other comment at this time,” school officials said in a statement.
Further details have not been disclosed. But the television station cited a source close to the investigation who said student was “on life support” Friday night.
The Buffalo News reported that Serafin-Bazan had no alcohol or drugs in his system but went into cardiac arrest during possible hazing that included forced exercises by fraternity brothers. Serafin-Bazan was recently treated for a respiratory ailment, the newspaper said.
In a statement, University at Buffalo President Satish Tripathi said the school has reached out to the student’s family and is providing “all the assistance and comfort we can to them during this incredibly difficult time.”
He said the university has “zero tolerance” for hazing. “Not only are hazing incidents a violation of our university policies, but they are also crimes.”
“Therefore, at my direction,” he said, “the official activities of all recognized fraternities and sororities are suspended effective immediately.”