Yahoo News is reporting Athens, Greece will build the first Mosque since Ottoman times. Athens’s has half a million Muslims.
The city has not had a formal mosque since it drove out the occupying Ottomans in 1833. Muslims have been praying in hundreds of makeshift sites. Just seeing those sites when the pop up brings back hatred for the ruling Ottoman empire.
In May, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said building a mosque was long overdue. He said, the government would allow a mosque to be built “out of respect for the Muslim residents in our capital, but also because we are obliged to actively defend our values.”
The new mosque – a 1,000 square meter building without a minaret is split over two levels will be built in an old naval base in an industrial, rundown part of Athens.
“We need the mosque for our new generation, for our youth … to feel equal in law, equal in society,” said Greece’s Muslim Association spokeswoman Anna Stamou.
Plans to build a mosque first began in 1890. But due to fierce opposition no Mosque has been built. The latest effort almost brought down the government, splitting the fragile ruling coalition.
Greece has a parliamentary system where multiple smaller parties team up to form a majority. It is a much more fragile government than on our 2-party system.
To try to do this now, with a fragile coalition is strange. A possible motive, besides just simply caving to Muslim demands for a Mosque is that Greece is still dependent on the European Union for its fiscal survival.
Golden Dawn, a nationalist party third in popularity, says migrants are burdening state resources at a time of crisis. Others still associate mosques with Turkey, its Muslim neighbor and longstanding rival.
Golden Dawn says it will step up its protests.
“We have done many protests and of course we will do much more,” lawmaker Ilias Panagiotaros said at a rally in January.