World, Europe

Athens’ first mosque opens doors to worshipers

Lacking a mosque since 19th century, new mosque in Greek capital is overdue, nearly 15 years in the making

Busra Nur Bilgic Cakmak   | 03.11.2020
Athens’ first mosque opens doors to worshipers

Ankara

ANKARA

Athens’ first mosque since the 19th century finally opened its doors to Muslim worshipers on Monday, local media reported.

With the opening, Athens finally shakes off its sad status as the only European Union capital to lack a mosque.

The mosque’s first imam is Zaki Mohammed, 49, a Greek citizen of Moroccan origin, Greek daily Ekathimerini said.

The mosque’s inaugural prayers were held under social distancing measures due to rising COVID-19 cases in Greece, as in much of Europe.

The decision to build a mosque in Athens was first made in 2006, with a budget of €887,000 ($1.04 million), but bureaucratic hurdles, protests by far-right groups, and legal challenges stalled the process.

Until today, the half-million Muslim faithful in the city had to resort to dingy basements and unsanitary locations to meet and perform prayers, Ibrahim Serif, the elected mufti of Komotini (Gumulcine) in Western Thrace, told Anadolu Agency in 2017.

Turkey has long decried Greek violations of the rights of its Muslim and Turkish minority, from closing down mosques and letting historic mosques fall into disrepair, to refusing to recognize Muslims’ election of their own muftis.

These measures violate the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne as well as European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) verdicts, making Greece a state that flouts the law, say Turkish officials.

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