The Greek capital will soon have its first mosque after the country’s parliamentary committee approved legislation on Wednesday for its construction.
The Government’s legislation was approved after votes from PASOK, SYRIZA’s junior partners whilst Independent Greeks (ANEL) opposed the motion.
ANEL objected to the construction of the mosque citing its principles and the party’s established positions on the matter as did the far right group Golden Dawn.
The proposed Islamic, venue which will be built in an old naval base in the run-down neighbourhood of Votanikos, is a 1,000-square meter building without a minaret, split over two levels – will be able to accommodate about 350 worshippers.
In response to the growing demands and critical voices, Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras promised that he will build the city’s first mosque along with the first Muslim cemetery.
The construction of a mosque in the middle of Athens has been a contentious issue, understandably so given the history between Greece and its former Ottoman occupiers, hence most resistance coming from institutions such as the church and many nationalist groups.
Currently most Muslims living in Athens perform their religious duties in makeshift mosques set up in garages or abandoned warehouses.