The administrative committee that will oversee the operation of Athens’s first mosque has presented Moroccan-born Zaki Mohammed as its candidate for the position of imam to Education Minister Costas Gavroglou, Kathimerini understands.
Mohammed, aged 50, came to Greece about 25 years ago. He holds Greek citizenship and is the father of two children. He speaks Arabic, Greek and French and has studied theology and mathematics. He is an imam at one of the five makeshift prayer rooms in Athens that have received permits from the state.
The decision to select Mohammed, who is reportedly held in high esteem among the Greek capital’s Arabs, was unanimous and was taken after examining his qualifications and a personal interview, the sources said. Gavroglou will have to sign off on the committee’s selection.
The mosque, the first in the Greek capital since the end of the Ottoman occupation, is expected to open its doors soon after Orthodox Easter, which falls on April 28 this year, in time for Ramadan, which starts on May 6. It will be open from half an hour before the first prayer and up to half an hour after the last, while it will operate on a 24-hour basis during Ramadan and other holidays.
Crews are reportedly completing the outdoor areas, adding a fountain and plants.
Athens has some 250,000 Muslims and about 70 unauthorized prayer rooms. The construction of the mosque has been plagued by delays and protests by far-right and religious groups.