[PICTURES] Athens, Greece Muslims celebrate the opening of a mosque after 200 YEARS
It should be noted that nearly 200 years ago, Ottomans were forced to leave the city.
After 14 years of wrangling and bureaucratic delays, the first government-funded mosque in the Greek capital, Athens, is now seeing the light of the day.
It should be noted that nearly 200 years ago, Ottomans were forced to leave the city. Since then, hundreds of thousands of Muslim residents of Athens did not have a formal mosque.
History started to change in 1890 when the government made plans to construct a mosque in Athens. However, it took decades for the project to be implemented as the initiative garnered major opposition from:
- The predominantly Christian Orthodox population
- The nationalists
- The sluggish bureaucracy
- The decade-long financial crisis
Amid the strong opposition came along the coronavirus outbreak, which limited the number of worshippers attending prayers in mosques. Only a few Muslims wearing masks and practicing social distancing under Covid-19 restrictions stepped out to participate in prayers.
Considering the establishment of the govt-funded mosque, Heider Ashir, a member of the mosque’s governing council, said:
It is a historic moment for the Muslim community living in Athens. We had been waiting for this mosque for so long. Thanks to God, finally, we have an open mosque, and we can pray here freely.
On the other hand, many Muslims express dissatisfaction with the mosque’s appearance. They said:
The grey, rectangular structure of the Athen mosque has no dome or minaret. It does not resemble other graceful, ornate mosques in Europe.
Naim El Ghandour, head of the Muslim Association of Greece, said:
It does not look like a worship place; it is a small, square, miserable building. We thank them very much for the offer, but we will fight to reach it to the level that we deserve.
Here are some pictures of the mosque in Athens:
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