The first Muslim mosque to open for worship in Athens since the establishment of the modern Greek state is set to open its doors in the capital city this Friday.
After numerous delays, for a variety of reasons, the mosque in the Votanikos neighborhood is expected to be officially opened at an event hosted by Greece’s Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs.
Athens is one of the very few European capitals which does not currently have a mosque.
The city has approximately 250,000 Muslims, who have to observe their religion in seventy unofficial, unauthorized shrines across the city.
The new Athenian mosque is relatively small, it does not have a minaret, and loudspeakers, which normally issue the call to prayers, will not be allowed.
The building can accommodate just 300 men and 50 women at a time, a number which clearly does not cover the city’s Muslim population, which is mainly comprised of migrants from Asia and Africa.
The construction of a mosque in Athens was announced several decades ago.
Strong opposition from far-right and religious groups, however, halted its construction for years.
Greek lawmakers voted in 2016 for the acceleration of its construction, but the mosque suffered from numerous vandalism attacks, with anti-Muslim slogans and posters decrying the creation of a Muslim shrine in the Greek capital constantly plastered on its walls.
Despite its official opening on Friday, prayers will not start immediately, as the administrative committee which will run and operate the mosque has not yet been appointed.
The construction of the mosque cost approximately €16 million.