Junior coalition partner objects to mosque

TAGS: Religion, Politics

A bill aimed at accelerating a much-delayed initiative to build the capital’s first official mosque was backed in principle on Wednesday by most parties in Parliament ahead of a vote in the House on Thursday, but SYRIZA’s coalition partner, the right-wing Independent Greeks (ANEL), rejected the motion.

The bill was approved at committee level Thursday ahead of a vote in the House’s plenary session scheduled for Thursday, with all but ANEL and neofascist Golden Dawn voting against it and the Union of Centrists expressing reservations.

It is by no means the first time that ANEL has broken ranks with SYRIZA over legislation on contentious issues. Votes on boosting rights for second-generation migrants and gay couples last year also saw the right-wing junior coalition partner defecting from the line adopted by leftist SYRIZA.

The new bill foresees the disbursement of 946,000 euros from state coffers for the construction of the capital’s first official mosque on a patch of land in the Votanikos district that formerly belonged to the Hellenic Navy.

Greece passed a law in 2006 to build a mosque in Athens with public money.

Although the plot in Votanikos was set aside, the construction of the mosque was held back by a series of legal appeals against the project.