Athens mayor: mosque move paves way for more prayer sites

Athens Mayor George Kaminis has said that the government’s launching of a tender for the creation of the capital’s first state-sponsored mosque paves the way for the creation of one or two Muslim prayer sites in every municipal district.

During a session of the Athens city council, Kaminis hailed the creation of a central mosque in Athens “for obvious reasons of political equality and defense of the right to freely exercise one’s faith” but also “for practical reasons, in order to bring some order to the unchecked establishment of informal sites.” He added that the move “paves the way for the procedure of issuing licenses for venues that meet certain specifications, venues that are today operating as unofficial prayer sites, so that one or two can operate legally in every municipal district.”

The mayor said that he had broached the subject of the possible creation of several smaller prayer sites in Athens during talks with Education Minister Constantinos Arvanitopoulos.

In the absence of an official state mosque, thousands of Muslims in Athens are forced to congregate in makeshift mosques in basements and garages.

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