Thessaloniki Mayor Boutaris defends mosque move

A week after inviting a group of students from the Muslim School of Komotini, in northern Greece, to visit and pray in Thessaloniki’s New (Yeni) Mosque – for the first time after 88 years – Mayor Yiannis Boutaris has hit back at criticism of the move.

Writing for Kathimerini on Sunday, Boutaris, who has often come under fire from Orthodox priests and conservative pundits, said the move will “promote the city by highlighting the full range of its historical and cultural legacy.”

Thessaloniki, Greece's second largest city, retains several Ottoman and Jewish structures.

“The students’ visit... is a clear sign of respect and religious tolerance not just toward our Muslim citizens but also toward societies with majority Muslim populations,” he added.