Muslims in Greece who’ve long awaited an official mosque to be built in Athens at the expense of the government are going to have to wait longer because so far no Greek construction company wants the job.
A fourth attempt to find a company to build the mosque in an old building will be made next month after three failed tenders have led to some firms claiming they withdrew because of fears of intimidation.
The Infrastructure Ministry’s General Secretary, Stratos Simopoulos, told Kathimerini that the new tender for the 946,000-euro ($1.28 million) project in the Votanikos area would only be aimed at big companies because smaller firms aren’t seeking the work despite a crushing economic crisis in which construction contracts have dried up.
Kathimerini spoke to representatives of several smaller companies that had expressed an interest in the scheme in the past, who admitted to concerns about the popular opposition to the construction of a mosque in Athens.
One person spoke of fears of “being targeted by extremist groups,” while another said that he had been unable to physically submit the bid due to a protest against the mosque by residents and other groups.
The neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party is opposed to the mosque’s construction and the project is also being fought by Bishop of Piraeus Seraphim and a residents’ group in Votanikos. Golden Dawn said they won’t allow work to go ahead and has made racially-charged statements against Muslims.
Government sources, however, speculated that the lack of interest from construction firms might be an attempt to force the government to offer more money. Athens is one of the few European Union capitals without a mosque, so Muslims use some 100 makeshift praying areas in the basements of apartment blocks.