It is a Turkish mosque built on the site of the original one conducted from a house since 1979. Building of this new mosque commenced in 1986 and was completed in 1999. It was largely funded by donations through the local Turkish community and many other local Muslim community members regardless of their ethnic background.
Designed on Classical Ottoman construction characterised by a central dome and minarets, it was built by Ahmet Asim, who donated much of his time. The name of the mosque - Auburn Gallipoli Mosque - reflects the shared legacy of the Australian society and the main community behind the construction of the mosque, the Australian Turkish Muslim Community.
The Ottoman Empire paid a heavy price with an estimated 250,000 Turkish and Arab troops killed or wounded defending Gallipoli in WWI. Turkey suffered the deaths of 87,000 men whilst 9,000 Australians and 35,000 other Allied troops were killed.
Russell Crowe’s movie The Water Diviner based on the true story of an Australian father who goes to the Gallipoli battlefields trying to find the bodies of his three sons. The movie also touched on the Greco-Turkish War of 1919–1922 fought between Greece and the Turkish National Movement during the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire after World War I.
My partner Stelios’ Greek family fled from Smyrna during this time along with many other Greek families. The family left everything behind in order to escape by boat to Greece. The boat held a large number of people with the escape organised by Stelios’ grandfather. Panagiotis. During the sea voyage his Auntie Eleni, just a small baby, was almost thrown from the boat by her father to stop her crying alerting the Turks to their whereabouts.
Smyrna was a Greek city dating back to antiquity located at a central and strategic point on the Aegean coast of Anatolia. This place was renamed to İzmir, Turkey.
Stelios’ father, Alexandros, was the only sibling born in Greece, at Taxiarchi on the island of Evia in 1925. His family also changed their family name around this time from Emmanuel or Emmanuelidis to Papoutsis meaning “shoemaker”.