A new mosque in Athens

Published: December 4, 2010
Greek authorities to speed up plans to build a new mosque in Athens to satisfy Muslim demand. FILE: PHOTO

Greek authorities to speed up plans to build a new mosque in Athens to satisfy Muslim demand. FILE: PHOTO

ATHENS: Greek authorities will speed up plans to build a new mosque in Athens to satisfy a long-standing demand by Muslim residents that has sparked tension in recent months.

Top-selling Ta Nea daily said the government is expected to fund the temporary mosque to be erected within six months in a disused navy base in Elaionas, an industrial district near the city centre. A larger place of worship with enough space for 500 people is to be built in the same area by 2012, Ta Nea said.

Thousands of Muslims from Arab nations, Africa and the Indian subcontinent live and work in Athens without official prayer sites or a cemetery, despite years of promises by successive Greek governments. Muslim faithful have crafted mosques out of rented flats and disused warehouses which are regularly targeted in racist attacks. Earlier this month, Muslims holding an open-air prayer near the city centre to celebrate Eid al-Adha were harassed by local residents who threw eggs at them and blared loud music from windows.

Members of a far-right group also threatened to physically remove the Muslims from the square but were held back by riot police. Anger towards migrants and attacks have escalated on the streets of Athens in recent months as the debt-hit country battles a growing recession that has brought thousands of job layoffs.

A staunchly Orthodox state with bitter memories of nearly four centuries of Ottoman Turkish rule, Greece currently offers sanctioned Muslim religious sites only near its north eastern border with Turkey where a Muslim minority of Turkish origin lives.

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Reader Comments (3)

  • A Muslim Woman
    Dec 4, 2010 - 4:05PM

    Makes me cry when I hear about incidents like these, where during namaaz the people were harassed by being hit by eggs and playing loud music.

    Why can people not mind their own business and religion? Is it really that difficult to live harmoniously with everyone free to practise what they believe in? Such irrational ways of expressing anger should be severely condemned. These are exactly the ones that spark violence and insurgencies because even the government is not doing anything. It should start by generating job opportunities for everyone equally.

    May peace be upon those who were harassed. And upon those who harassed too. Recommend

  • European
    Dec 4, 2010 - 7:07PM

    I wonder how many churches there are functioning in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria & Pakistan? Then again, you don’t hear the Christians crying about it on every news channel. Less brain washed I guess!Recommend

  • Insanity
    Dec 6, 2010 - 10:36AM

    @A Muslim Woman
    Why don’t you cry when Christians are slaughtered in Iraq ? or when Buddists are killed in Thailand or when Sikhs prevented from praying in Lahore ?Recommend

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