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A mosque without a minaret in Athens

10 March 2013 / 14:03:14  GRReporter
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The case with the construction of a new mosque in Athens is in its final stage by order of Antonis Samaras. This will be a modern building that will not be reminiscent of Ottoman mosques with minarets at all. The only thing left in order for the construction to begin is the announcement of the tender by the Ministry of Transportation. The decision was taken last September, long before the insulting suggestion of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the Greek Prime Minister that Turkey should pay for the construction of the mosque in Athens.

The letter

It is no coincidence that the recent letter of Muslim organisations in Athens, and, in particular, the Union of Pakistanis came out against Edogan’s suggestion, emphasising that the project in question concerns the Greek society and thus rejected Turkey's attempts to appear as a defender of the Muslims in Athens. This letter is also a public policy justification of organising religious events of Muslims in Athens safely and with respect for their religion by the Ministry of Education. For example, last August, Ramadan was organised under the auspices of Secretary of Religious Affairs George Kalandzis.

The construction of the mosque will terminate the unacceptable and uncontrolled current situation regarding illegal mosques in Athens operating in basements and garages. Their number across Attica is more than 100. The construction of the mosque, which is a permanent request of Muslims, who have been living in the capital city since 1940, will reduce objectionable voices in Greece that the religious freedom of Muslims is not respected, and, furthermore, it will improve the international image of the country in the Muslim world.

The fact that Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus referred the Supreme Administrative Court is also worth noting. He insisted that the Act for the construction of the mosque be declared unconstitutional and anti-Greek. Sources say that, despite the Court’s decision, construction works may begin at any moment.

The operation

However, the Metropolitan’s request was used by Turkey in order to deteriorate the image of Greece and the Orthodox Church in Arab countries, where the headquarters of three Orthodox patriarchates are located. Ankara accused Greece again before the organisation Islamic Conference of the lack of a mosque in Athens. It should be noted that the question raised by the Metropolitan of Piraeus lies outside his bishopric’s competence, and he is not even a resident of the area. At the same time the Metropolitan, in whose area the mosque will be erected, declared himself "for" its construction in the spirit of respect for religious freedom.

Since both the land and the building of the mosque are state-owned, the public has the right to determine a board of Trustees of the mosque according to Islamic traditions. It will consist, as provided by law, of seven members, two of whom will be offered by Muslim organisations in Athens. The Imam will be appointed by the Minister of Education and will serve for two years.

The price

The price of the mosque, which will accommodate 350 people, amounts to 846,000 euro. The project was designed by the architectural bureau of Alexandros Tombazis that has created some of the most beautiful mosques in the world. There will be no minaret since it is considered that it will not suit the environment. The building will not be visible from Iera Street and will have an optical contact with St. Christopher church. There is no permission to build homes and, according to diplomatic sources, this will prevent the danger of creating a ghetto around the mosque.

Tags: Mosque minaret Athens Muslims
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