On Friday, the first state-sponsored mosque since 1833 opened in Athens, the capital of Greece. Hundreds of Muslims live in the city, but there has been no official mosque since the Ottoman army was expelled almost 200 years ago. The new mosque met with strong opposition from other denominations and political forces, but it was eventually taken into use.
The first ideas for building a mosque in Athens came in 1990, but it took decades for nationalists and the Greek Orthodox Church to oppose the idea. with great financial difficulties.
There were few people at the first prayers on Friday, but a limited number were allowed to attend due to the coronary virus pandemic. Everyone wore face masks and there was a good distance between everyone present. CNN reports this.
“This is a historic moment for Muslims in Athens, we have been waiting so long for this mosque,” said Heider Ashir, who sits on the mosque’s board. “Thank God, finally we have a mosque that is open and we can pray here at will.”
Not all Muslims are happy with the appearance of the mosque, but it is a gray, rectangular house without a dome or prayer tower and does not resemble other mosques in Europe.
“It does not look like a house of prayer at all, it is small, square, miserable building,” said Naim El Ghandour, chairman of the Greek Muslim Association.