The Center was established in 1994 in a rented building that used to be a former nightclub, built in the 1950s. Karbalaa is continually remodeled, with rooms changing functions from mosque to assembly hall. In its current state, the larger room is the main mosque with a smaller mosque attached for women and children. Occasionally the larger mosque is turned into secular space with tables and chairs to host members of the congregation, guests, local politicians and media for press conferences on Iraq. The floor of the mosque is decorated with colorful prayer rugs, and the wall with photos of Iraqi martyrs Mohammad Baqir as-Sadr and Baqir al-Hakim, murdered by Saddam Hussein. Karbalaa is the center of Dearborns Iraqi Shia community, with about 5000 members. There are approximately 15,000 Iraqi Shia refugees living in the greater Detroit area, who fled Iraq due to their opposition to Saddam Hussein.
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