The final hurdle regarding the construction of a Mosque in Athens seems to have been overcome, with the necessary funds being allocated. Follow approval of its Public Investment Program, the Ministry of Education will transfer 946,000 euros to the Ministry of Growth for the purposes of the construction.
Meanwhile, the two Ministries await the final decision of the Council of State, since there objections against the construction of the Mosque have been submitted by the Metropolitan Bishop of Piraeus Seraphim, a culture association, an academic, two Navy commanders and five Votanikos residents, where the Mosque is to be constructed. A decision is expected over the next few weeks.
The 350-capacity temporary mosque will be constructed on a disused Navy building in the area of Votanikos and will have a minimalist, industrial aesthetic so that it blends in to the area. While there will be no minaret, there will be some sort of vertical structure alluding to one. Upon completion, the building will be handed over to the Managing Committee of the Athens Mosque that was established in 2006 and operated under supervision of the Ministry of Education.
Earlier attempts and legislation
The earliest provisions for a mosque in Attica were made in a 1890 law, which ceded a 554 square meter plot of land in Piraeus to the Ottoman government for the construction of a “Turkish mosque”. A similar law in 1934 ceded a 3,350 square meter plot to the Egyptian government for similar purposes.
The latest discussions for the construction of a Mosque in Athens began after the regime change in the 1970s, when a significant Arab community in Athens was emerging. No plans were made until Greece’s winning Olympic Games bid and a law was passed in 2000 for the construction of a Mosque in Peania, in an effort to improve Greek-Arab relations.
The Greek bureaucracy blocked the project and it wasn’t until 2006 when plans for a Mosque in Athens were made. During Giorgos Papandreou’s administration a survey for the conversion of the disused Navy building into a mosque was completed. The matter was not a priority for Lucas Papadimos’ administration, leaving the matters in the hands of the current tripartite administration headed by Mr. Samaras.