Political games stalling mosque construction in Athens
The construction of a Mosque in Athens has been repeatedly delayed, with the Ministry of Infrastructure revealing that its General Secretariat of Public Works…
The construction of a Mosque in Athens has been repeatedly delayed, with the Ministry of Infrastructure revealing that its General Secretariat of Public Works not having signed a contract for the project yet with the joint venture (Aktor, Terna, JP&Avax and Intrakat) that won the bid.
The latest delay stems from an appeal launched by an academic, two Navy officers, a cultural association and the Metropolitan Bishop of Piraeus Seraphim, who oppose the construction of a Mosque. The general secretariat has not signed a contract out of fear of an injunction causing further delays.
Meanwhile, New Democracy’s candidate for the Municipality of Athens Aris Spiliotopoulos has curiously requested a local referendum regarding the construction within Athens, despite having approved the construction of the Mosque in central Athens as an MP! It has been suggested that the New Democracy candidate’s request was a turn to the far-right voters, as he has also claimed that there “is no room for more migrants in Athens”.
The current mayor of Athens (and candidate) Giorgos Kaminis pointed out his opponent’s inconsistency and underlined the importance of “politicians not contradicting themselves”. SYRIZA’s candidate for the municipality Gabriel Sakellaridis, along with PASOK and DIMAR also scrutinized Spiliotopoulos’ request.
The Athens mosque’s “Odyssey” so far…
The story of the much-delayed mosque began at in 1890, when the Greek state reserved a plot of land in Piraeus which it would concede to the Ottoman Empire for the construction of a “Turkish temple”. Another law in 1934 provided the concession of plot to the Egyptian government for the construction of a mosque and Egyptian Institute. Decades later and after Greece secured the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, a new act was passed in 2000 that provided the construction of an Islamic culture center in Peania, however that too never went through.
In 2006, a new law was passed which provided that the State would construct a mosque in Athens, under the supervision of the Ministry of Education. The original plan was to convert Navy facilities in the Votanikos area in Athens, however the project was delayed.
Ultimately, the General Secretariat of Public Works revised construction plans in 2011. The Ministry of Infrastructure took over the project under Makis Voridis, who avoided dealing with the matter. Eventually the Ministry of Education secured funds for the project in 2013 and carried out a competition for the project in July 2013.