LAST UPDATE 19:40
The Islamic mosque of Athens, a request of the local Muslim community that has been plagued by several years’ delays, will be finished by September, Education and Religion Minister Kostas Gavroglou said during a visit to the site in the Eleonas area of Athens on Friday.
The building is set in Haidari, the municipality in the western sector of the greater Athens area.
Gavroglou said that the state-funded temple is not private. “It is a public mosque, unlike those in almost all European countries,” he said, adding that “the temple was exclusively built with funds of the Greek people, and its operation will be funded by the Greek state. The state will do anything it can to guarantee everyone’s right to pray at the worship site each one chooses.”
Referring to the length of time it took before the realisation of the plan, Gavroglou thanked all ministers who had contributed to the project, especially former minister Marietta Giannakou, who had introduced the law for its construction in parliament in 2006.
The mosque’s jurisdiction will come under the Ministry of Education and Religion, and the landscaped area around it under the Municipality of Athens, he said. The mosque “will operate according to the public sector laws and processes,” Gavroglou noted, saying he “looks forward to the first prayer, to be called by the imam of the mosque of Athens. We hope this happens by September the latest.”
“Athens finally has a dignified prayer site for Muslims living here either as citizens, migrants, refugees or visitors. The right of a person to pray to their God and the right of a child to go to school or of an ailing person to go to hospital does not depend on how that person chanced to be in Greece – all of them have inalienable human rights,” he noted.
Sidi Mohammed Zaki, the mosque’s imam, said the community was honoured to be present, and had waited for a long time to see the fruition of this project. “As you know, Islam is a religion of peace, brotherhood, a religion of unity and unification, and nobody stands out,” he said, adding that “the best person for Allah is the one who offers something to humanity. We thank the Greek people for accepting us as Greek citizens and Muslims, and I thank the Greek state for helping us set up this space”.