After years of delays caused by red tape, cutbacks and opposition from religious and political factions, the first government-funded mosque in Athens since 1833 opened its doors to worshipers on Friday.
Hundreds of thousands of Muslims from countries including Pakistan, Syria, Afghanistan and Bangladesh live in Athens but the city has not had a formal mosque since it forced occupying Ottomans to leave nearly 200 years ago.
Plans to build a mosque in Athens began in 1890 but it took decades for them to materialize due to opposition from a predominantly Christian Orthodox population and nationalists, sluggish bureaucracy but most recently a decade-long financial crisis.
Amid a coronavirus outbreak, only a limited number of worshipers, wearing masks and sitting at a distance from each other due to Covid-19 restrictions, attended prayers.
“It is a historic moment for the Muslim community living in Athens, we have been waiting for this mosque for so long,” said Heider Ashir, a member of the mosque’s governing council.
“Thanks to God, finally, we have a mosque which is open and we can pray here freely.”But other Muslims were unhappy with the mosque’s appearance.
A gray, rectangular structure with no dome or minaret, has no resemblance to other graceful, ornate mosques in Europe.”It does not at all look like a place of worship, it is a small, square, miserable building,” said Naim El Ghandour, head of the Muslim Association of Greece.
“We thank them very much for the offer, but we will fight to reach it to the level that we deserve.”Under a lockdown to curb a surge in Covid infections, gatherings for formal worshiping will be banned from Saturday until November 30.
“We will pray at home, and as soon as the lockdown is over the mosque will again be open for the worshipers,” Ashir said.
- Military personnel attached to Speaker’s office withdrawn effective Jan. 14
- Family of 7 killed by fire at Gomoa Budumburam
- ‘I felt embarrassed and frustrated when I failed terminal exams 3 times’ – Failed suicide victim
- You are a motivated beggar with a sense of entitlement – A Plus tells Psalm Adjeteyfio
- 4 highway robbers arrested, 4 others on the run
- Withdrawal of Speaker’s military attachment not meant to deprive him of protection – National Security Ministry
- Fella Makafui wows fans with new photos
- Get away from shore – US and Japan warn on tsunami
- We must have a proper value system as Ghanaians – Kunbuor
- Fitch downgrades Ghana’s credit rating from B to B – with negative outlook
Oxford Business Group signs MoU with Stanbic Investment Management Services
‘Operation Clean Your Frontage’ defaulters in Ablekuma summoned
John Kwao Dawson: Re-registration of SIM; the mistrust between NIA and telcos on database
Illegal logging in forest reserves is a national security issue – Forestry Commission
Worker unions fear more job losses as local companies halt production over benchmark values
74-year-old exonerated after spending 27 years in prison for murder she didn’t commit
Bawumia urges African central banks to connect payments switches to PAPSS
Tourism industry players decry impact of increases in fuel prices on operations
Fitch downgrades Ghana’s credit rating from B to B- with negative outlook
Forestry Commission builds military camp to check illegal activities in forests in Western North Region
Punish attackers of Radio Ada – Information Ministry to Police
AFCON Day 7 Wrap: Nigeria advance to next round, Salah scores in Egypt win
Withdrawal of Speaker’s military attachment not meant to deprive him of protection – National Security Ministry
MPs on public boards can create conflict of interest – Clara Kasser-Tee
Group warns against tribal, religious sentiments ahead of NPP flagbearership race