Votanikos Mosque

The Votanikos Mosque or Athens New Mosque (Greek: Τζαμί της Αθήνας, romanizedTzami tis Athinas, lit.'Athens Mosque') is a mosque in the Votanikos neighbourhood of Athens, Greece. It is the first official mosque in the Greek capital since the Greek War of Independence. Athens was the only European capital without a mosque until its construction.[1] The project faced opposition from the Greek Orthodox Church and civil protests.[2]

Votanikos Mosque
Religion
AffiliationIslam
Location
LocationVotanikos, Athens, Greece
Architecture
TypeMosque
Funded byGreece
Date established3 November 2020
Capacity366 people

HistoryEdit

There are mosques from Ottoman times in Athens, such as the Tzistarakis Mosque and the Fethiye Mosque, but they function solely as archaeological monuments.[citation needed] Until 2014, only Orthodox Christianity, Judaism, and Islam in some areas of Greece were legally allowed to open places of worship.[2] While there was no official mosque near Athens, more than a hundred makeshift mosques formed in the area. As of November 2020, ten have been given permission by the Greek government to continue operating but the others face being moved or shut down.[1]

The first law passed by the Greek Parliament about constructing a ″Turkish mosque″ in the Athens area was in 1890. In 1970, conservative Arab countries offered the funding of a mosque in Athens but neither the law nor the proposal were realized. Increased immigration from Muslim countries in recent decades has made the establishment more urgent[citation needed]—about 200,000 Muslims live in the Athens area,[1] many of whom are Pakistani and Albanians—but until recently there was no official mosque building.[citation needed]

The first attempt to establish a mosque in Athens dates to Law 2833 in 2000 which envisaged its establishment at Hourmouza in Paiania and was intended to be financed by Saudi Arabia. Due to the reaction of the Church and the locals, the project stalled.[3] In 2006, the effort was resumed with Law 3512 but with major modifications: it was decided that the construction would be financed solely by the Greek state which would retain complete control over the mosque and appoint its imam.[3] The project was repeatedly delayed due to judicial actions by various groups- which went all the way to the Council of State-and the fact that four successive public tenders received no interest from contractors.[3]

ConstructionEdit

The fifth tender was successful and was given to a consortium comprising four of Greece's biggest construction firms—J&P ABAX, TERNA, AKTOR, and Intrakat. The contract for the construction was signed on 10 October 2016. The location had to be cleared by the police first, as it was occupied by far-right protesters, but construction began on 4 November.[3][4] The site, with a total surface of 17 stremmata, was handed over by the Hellenic Navy. Existing structures were torn down for the building of a new complex, planned to include a parking space and children's playground. The mosque was planned to an area of 1,000 m2 and comprises two areas of worship, one for men with a capacity for 500, and one for women, with a capacity of 50. The mosque was not planned to feature a minaret.[3] The mosque was financed by the Greek state, without any outside financial support; it is the only mosque in a European capital built solely using government funds. The budget was 887,000 Euros.[3][1]

OpeningEdit

The mosque was opened on 3 November 2020.[5] The opening was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[1] Its first and current imam is Zaki Mohammed.[6]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e Ioannou, Demetrios (8 November 2020). "Athens's first mosque since the 19th century is 'a dream come true'". Middle East Eye. Retrieved 2022-02-06.
  2. ^ a b Speed, Madeleine (2019-02-01). "The battle to build a mosque in Athens". Financial Times. Retrieved 2022-02-06.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Giorgos Lialios (12 January 2017). "Τέλος Απριλίου έτοιμο το τζαμί στον Βοτανικό" (in Greek). Kathimerini. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  4. ^ "Construction of a mosque in Votanikos". Intrakat. 25 January 2017.
  5. ^ "Greece: The first mosque in Athens has opened its doors for prayer after 14 years of design and construction". Independent Balkan News Agency. 4 November 2020. Retrieved 14 September 2021.
  6. ^ Lakasas, Apostolos. "Athens' first mosque opens its doors after 14-year wait – Exclusive footage | eKathimerini.com". www.ekathimerini.com. Retrieved 2022-02-06.