Without minaret or dome, the beige, rectangular structure in a former industrial area has none of the ornate grace typical of Islamic places of worship. However, this new Athens mosque (below) is now closed indefinitely.
Reuters The Greek authorities treat Islam and Muslims in Athens as a foreign body to be banished in the periphery of the city, expected to be content with a prefab concrete box similar to the ones that they use now (disused warehouses and garages).
Although there are mosques in other parts of Greece, the capital has not had a formal mosque since it drove out occupying Ottomans in 1833, and the few that are left have been repurposed.But for the Muslims of Athens, capital of Greece, it is the result of a long effort, and the city’s first formal mosque in more than 180 years.
Although there are mosques in other parts of Greece, the capital has not had a formal mosque since it drove out occupying Ottomans in 1833, and the few that are left have been repurposed. Plans to build a mosque began in 1890 with an act of parliament, but all fell through, including one timed for the 2004 Olympics.
Stymied by red tape, a financial crisis, a predominantly Christian Orthodox population and opposition from the rise of the far right of the country, getting approval for the mosque took years, forcing Muslims to pray at makeshift sites dotted across the city, ranging from crowded basements or dark warehouses.
More than 200,000 Muslims from countries including Pakistan, Syria, Afghanistan and Bangladesh live in the Greek capital, according to Muslim groups. Greece has its own Muslim community which represent about 2% of the population who live mainly in the north.
Efforts over the years to build a mosque in Athens sparked protests from groups on the right; a short distance from the mosque, graffiti scrawled on a wall read “Islam Out”.
“It looks nothing like a mosque .. But what is important is that there is a place for us to pray,” he told Reuters.
However, so far, nobody is praying in it. (Good!)
Also see: Greek officials refuse to allow Turkey to restore any Ottoman monuments in Greece of which there are about 20,000