NEWS

Vartholomaios backs mosque

Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios backed efforts yesterday toward the construction of a mosque in Athens after Greece was recently criticized for not offering its Muslim community a suitable prayer site. «I wish that a worship area could start operating as soon as possible in Athens for the religious needs of our Muslim brothers,» Vartholomaios, the spiritual leader of the world's 200 million Orthodox Christians, said after a church service in Turkey's Cappadocia. The Orthodox Church has expressed its support for a mosque in Athens, arguing that the country should display tolerance of the Islamic religion. In early April, the Council of Europe issued a report bemoaning the lack of sanctioned prayer sites in Greece. The report added that Greece had not kept a promise to create the mosque in Athens ahead of the 2004 Olympic Games. The fact that Athens is the only European capital without a mosque does not honor Orthodox Christians, Vartholomaios added.

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