It will cost the cash-strapped Greek government, which is cutting pay, raising taxes and slashed pensions for workers, pensioners and the poor, some 846,000 euros, about $1.1 million, to build an official mosque in Athens for the city’s Muslim population.
The design, however, is slated to have a modern look and not that of Ottoman mosques with minarets, the newspaper Ta Nea reported, adding that all that’s needed for the project to begin for the Transportation Ministry to begin the bidding procedures for construction.
The government agreed in September of 2012 to go ahead with the plans after an offer from the Turkish government to pay for it was rejected by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and opposed by the Muslim community which wanted the Greek state to undertake it.
Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus said he was vehemently opposed to having Greece build a mosque who said it should be declared unconstitutional and anti-Greek. The idea of a mosque is still touchy in Greece, which suffered under 400 years of Ottoman occupation when churches were prohibited and as the Turkish government has refused to re-open the closed Halki Seminary.
Nevertheless, the head of the Greek Church, Archbishop Ieronymos , supports the building of the facility for what he said were grounds of religious tolerance. The mosque will have a capacity of 350 people but the design will not feature a minaret after architects said it would blend with the neighborhood.
Without an official, state-sanctioned mosque, Muslims in Greece have to find makeshift places, such as basements, garages and other facilities, to pray and gather for worship.