The Council of State rejected an appeal of 111 residents of Votanikos area in Athens who were against the building of a Muslim mosque. The decision paves the way for the erection of the first Muslim mosque in Athens.
The Votanikos residents, who presented themselves as Greek Orthodox Christian Citizens, had appealed to a decision by the Council that a mosque can be erected at Votanikos with state funding in an abandoned building that belongs to the Greek Navy.
The 111 citizens had asked for the cancellation of the project claiming it was unconstitutional and illegal on the grounds of environment protection and the separation of powers, citing articles 24 and 26 of the Greek Constitution. They also claimed that the building is not consistent with the history and aesthetics of the city.
However, Greece’s highest administrative court ruled that the legislative framework for the construction of the mosque does not violate the principles of equality and freedom of expression of religious belief, but instead it protects the Muslims’ rights. According to the court, the construction of the mosque is necessary as Greece is bound by the international treaties it has signed and by its Constitution that protects religious freedom.
For the construction of the mosque the Ministry of Development has allocated 946,000 euros (including VAT) and the auctioning of the project has been approved. The controversial mosque will be built on an area of 17 acres on Iera Odos street that used to be a car workshop of the Greek Navy in the Navy Fortress of Votanikos.