The Education and Religious Affairs Ministry on Tuesday took another step toward establishing the capital’s first official mosque, appointing a seven-member administrative council that is to oversee its operation.
The council will comprise two ministry officials, two City Hall representatives, two representatives of the capital’s Muslim communities and a legal expert.
The body is to be headed by Constantinos Pittadakis, a senior official from the ministry’s general secretariat for religious affairs.
Nelly Papachela, the capital’s deputy mayor who is to sit on the council, said authorities were determined to ensure the mosque is a positive thing for the city and its Muslim residents.
“The desire of the City of Athens is that the mosque operates properly,” Papachela told Kathimerini. “We want the exercise of religious duties to be conducted calmly and for there to be no problems,” she said, adding that municipal authorities were determined “to defy any fears” that citizens may have.
The construction of the mosque, on a former naval base in Votanikos, west of central Athens, is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
When it is finally completed, following years of delays and objections by Orthodox clerics and right-wing groups, it will be the first official place of worship for Muslims in the Greek capital.