The Greek government gave permission for the construction of a mosque in Thrace, a few days after the decision of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque in Constantinople.
It is recalled that Turkey often mentions the alleged suppression of the so-called “Turkish minority” in Thrace. It is an issue that Ankara often puts on the table for discussion between the two countries, which is constantly fueled by extremist groups of the Muslim minority in Thrace.
In this context, Secretary-General of Religious Affairs Giorgos Kalantzis decided on the 20th of July to give permission to the Wakf Committee of Zoumbouli to “build a place of worship (mosque) of 139.01 sq.m., which will be built on land owned by the municipality of Myki in the Xanthi regional unit. 214 people will be able to attend the services as long as the legal representative Ramadan Cemali of Hassan submits an application.”
Religious freedom is enshrined in article 13 of the Greek Constitution, which states that “all known religions shall be free and their rites of worship shall be performed unhindered and under the protection of the law. The practise of rites of worship is not allowed to offend public order or the good usages. Proselytism is prohibited.” Thus, the State must not only respect the faithful of any religion and any doctrine, who perform their religious duties but is also obliged to protect and facilitate religious worship.
As for the building permit of the new mosque in the municipality of Myki, the construction of such a building generally falls within the competence of the Ministry of Education which gives the permit for the construction but the competent office is not bound to issue an establishment and operating permit if the legal conditions are not met or the relevant right is abused. In the second stage, an establishment and operating permit is given, which states that the building serves the purpose for which it was built.