Like, who paid for it?
Never mind that local Nicaraguan officials say they haven't heard a word on the port project ever since an Iranian-led delegation was confronted 18 months ago by angry villagers. Or that virtually none of the other announced investments have materialized.
The geopolitical chatter surrounding the gold-domed mosque, which opened in September after more than a year of construction, continues. "Did Iran put up the money? That's the question everyone asks," says Ismat Khatib, a native Nicaraguan lawyer and businessman who is of Palestinian descent. One Managua-based diplomat says it is believed Iran subsidized it.
But Mr. Khatib, who is treasurer of the Nicaraguan Islamic Cultural Association, which oversees the mosque, insists that the Iranian government contributed not a single córdoba. In fact, he says the only thing it actually promised to donate was a large, special rug for the mosque's prayer room -- and that it never arrived.
"This is the real version," says Mr. Khatib. "You can end the mystery with this."
Not quite. Speculation also surrounds who has been praying at the mosque, or la mezquita, which offers services five times a day, beginning at 4:30 a.m.
"All the Taliban," declares William Martinez, a 24-year-old barber at Le Moustache, a hair salon across the street. Natalie Melendez, a clerk at the Veo Veo video-rental store on the corner, offers a different account. "There are two types of people who use the mosque," she says, matter-of-factly. "The Arabs and the Iranians."
"They pray to the god of the moon so they only gather at night," says Ms. Melendez.
In an interview, Fahmi M. Hassan, a Palestinian fabric merchant and president of the Islamic cultural association, sought to dispel some of the myths surrounding the new mosque, which he says cost about $600,000.
Mr. Hassan -- who says Nicaragua's Muslims mostly are transplanted Palestinians, Jordanians and Pakistanis -- scoffs at rumors that Iran paid for the mosque.
He says the Iranian Embassy in Managua angered the Muslim community here when it tried about a year ago to compete with his Islamic association by creating a similar entity with a nearly identical name -- the Nicaraguan Islamic Cultural Center.