Athens’ First New Mosque Since Ottoman Empire Officially Opens

Photo: ekathimerini.comThe first mosque in Athens since Greece was liberated from the Ottoman Empire in 1821 opened its doors on Monday.

“A long effort by successive governments since 2006, when Law 3512 was passed, has been completed. Greece sends a clear message inside and outside the country, of democracy, religious freedom and respect,” said General Secretary of Religions Giorgos Kalantzis, reports Ekathimerini.

The new mosque’s first imam is the Moroccan-born Greek citizen Zaki Mohammed, 49.

Despite the passing of the 2006 law, an agreement to begin construction was reached only in 2016, and the opening was delayed several times since then. It was reported that the mosque was to open in April of last year, and it was planned again this spring, though it was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, reports euronews.

And in fact, the story began even earlier. The Greek government announced in 2002 that there would be a mosque by the time of the 2004 Olympics, but the plan never came to fruition. The decision to build a mosque in Greece was made again in 2013 and a plot of land was allocated on the territory of the now unused naval base.

The mosque, built on the territory of the former central parking lot of the Greek navy in the Athenian district of Votanikos, can hold up to 350 people, though only 9 are allowed in at a time according to current pandemic restrictions.