NEWS

Plans for Athens mosque back on track

A long-delayed project to build the capital’s first official mosque was back on track Thursday after the government announced that a consortium had been chosen to undertake the construction following four failed attempts to find a taker.

The Infrastructure Ministry said it had awarded the contract for the mosque’s construction to a consortium comprising the firms J&P Avax, Terna, Aktor and Intrakat.

The project has a budget of 946,000 euros and is slated for construction on a plot of land that formerly belonged to the Hellenic Navy in Votanikos, near central Athens. Ministry sources said construction should get under way in two months’ time, after the legal process has been completed, and that the project should be completed six months after the contracts are signed.

However there are fears of a possible delay as residents of Votanikos have appealed against the mosque’s construction to the Council of State, which is expected to hear their case at the end of January.

The project has been beset by delays since it was announced in 2000 following opposition by residents and the Orthodox Church, which had initially objected to the construction of a mosque with minarets. The mosque slated for Votanikos will not have minarets.

Several firms had in the past expressed 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.