Government targets big firms in fourth bid for mosque

The government is targeting the country’s largest construction firms with its fourth tender for a much-delayed project to build an official mosque in the capital, according to a decision taken on Tuesday by the Infrastructure Ministry.

“We believe that these companies, which deal with large projects, will not have a problem with possible reactions,” the ministry’s general secretary for public works, Stratos Simopoulos, told Kathimerini, referring to possible attacks by members of far-right groups opposed to the presence of a place of worship for the capital’s Muslim population. Simopoulos said he believed the 946,000-euro project, slated for the central Votanikos area, could be completed quickly “due to the capabilities of these companies.”

Representatives of smaller firms which originally had expressed an interest in the scheme subsequently admitted to concerns about the popular opposition to the construction of a mosque in Athens, one of very few European capitals without an official place of worship for Muslims. The Far-right Golden Dawn party is opposed to the mosque’s construction but the project is also being fought by Bishop of Piraeus Seraphim and a residents’ group in Votanikos.

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