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Funding for the mosque in Athens has been found

10 May 2013 / 14:05:15  GRReporter
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The long-awaited construction of a mosque in Athens is about to start soon. After a year's delay, the Greek government has been able to secure the funding required for its construction.

The total budget amounts to 946,000 euro, which the Ministry of Education will allocate to the Ministry of Infrastructure and Development in two instalments - 500,000 euro will be granted by the end of June and the remaining 446,000 euro - by the end of September this year.

According to the Greek media, the funding has been approved under the public investments programme. Until recently, the Ministry of Education did not have the funds to finance the project.

Legal obstacles

However, legal obstacles hamper the construction too. Both ministries are awaiting the decision of the State Council (one of the highest courts in Greece – author’s note) in connection with the claims against the construction of the mosque. They were filed by the Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus, the "Athens" cultural association a university professor, two commanders of the navy and five residents of the neighbourhood of Votanikos, where the specific area is located. According to sources, it is expected that the decision will be announced in the next few weeks. If the court rejects the claims, the last obstacle to the construction of a house of prayer for the thousands of Muslims in Athens and the region will fall.

It is stated in the project that the mosque, which is described as "temporary," will accommodate 350 people, its appearance will not be pompous and the building will be in harmony with the surrounding industrial area of ​​Votanikos. The architects will use an already existing building, previously owned by the navy. It is old and it has been adapted for other purposes and has an area of ​​1,017 square metres. The project also includes plans to build a vertical structure that will resemble the minarets that are traditional for mosques.

The project

The technical description of the project of Alexandros Tombazis design firm states that only the side walls of the existing building will be retained because the roof is in very poor condition and will be demolished and renewed.

The supporting structure of the new construction will be metal and the outside walls will be covered with aluminium insulation panels. The inner side of the walls will be lined with double gypsum plasterboard panels.

"The quickest and cheapest option would be to demolish the old building and build a new, smaller one, which would be suitable for the particular purpose. But the licence and terms of construction require that at least part of the existing building be kept and that new, lighter structures be added", state the designers.

Moreover, the building is not facing Mecca and therefore, the main part of the mosque will be adjusted so that the place of prayer will face the sacred city of Muslims.

The entrance will take the visitors into a courtyard, which will be surrounded by walls with a height of 3 metres, and to a closed rest room. The designers offer a water construction in the middle of the courtyard not only for the needs of the congregation but also for bioclimatic reasons.

The mosque will be transferred for free to the entity "Steering committee of the Islamic mosque in Athens," which was established in 2006, and its operation will be overseen by the Ministry of Education.

The issue has been discussed for more than 40 years already

The discussion on the construction of a mosque in the Greek capital dates back to the 1970s, when a solid Arab community had begun to form in Athens but in practice, the authorities had not taken any action in this regard.

The issue was raised again in the year 2000 when Greece was selected to host the Olympic Games in 2004. A law was passed then that provided for the establishment of a mosque and an Islamic centre in the Athens suburb of Peania in order to enhance Greek-Arab relations. However, everything remained on paper.

Two years after the Games, a new law was voted that provided for the construction of a mosque with public funds and under the control of the Ministry of Education. Later, the place was specified, namely the old premises of the navy in Votanikos.

Historically, the first law for the construction of a mosque dates back to 1890. The law of that time provided for the allocation of an area of ​​544 square metres to the Ottoman government for the construction of a "Turkish mosque." Several years later, Act 6244 of 1934 provided for the granting of an area of ​​3,350 square metres to the Egyptian government to build a mosque and an Egyptian institute.

Tags: SocietyMosqueFundingProjectMinaret
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