Seven years after a site in central Athens was earmarked for the construction of the capital’s first state-sponsored mosque, a tender for the project is expected to be announced by the government on Wednesday.
The tender, which is to be uploaded onto the government’s Diavgeia portal (diavgeia.gov.gr), where draft laws are published, is for a 1-million-euro project. The construction of the mosque, which will not have minarets, is estimated to cost 846,000 euros, with another 150,000 euros going toward the feasibility studies that must precede construction on the former naval base in Votanikos. An existing structure will form a part of the mosque.
The much-delayed project is reportedly moving forward at the behest of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who is keen to establish a mosque in Athens – the only capital of the original 15 in the European Union that lacks a state-backed venue for Muslim worship – in a bid to boost Greece’s diplomatic hand when it comes to other sensitive issues in the region, including those relating to religious minorities.
Also, the establishment of a mosque is a prerequisite for Greece to launch inspections on an estimated 120 venues illegally operating as mosques in Athens. These makeshift spaces serve an estimated 30,000 Muslims living legally in the capital and thousands more illegal residents.
Sources say the Votanikos mosque will be able to hold around 350 worshippers as well as hundreds more in an outdoor area.