Police evacuate occupied site at Votanikos

Police evacuate occupied site at Votanikos

Riot police units on Friday ended the occupation by nationalists of a site at Votanikos, which has been slated for the construction of the capital’s first mosque, and detained 15 people.

The intervention follows a call on the government on Thursday by Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis to do its “duty” and take action. He said that construction work for the mosque should start as soon as possible and that the 200 or so unofficial prayer sites operating in the broader Athens area were not subject to any inspections. The cost, budgeted at just under 887 million euros, will be footed by the Greek state.

The site bad been occupied by around 15 people calling themselves the Association of Reservist Infantryman who set up a makeshift center which they called “Hotspot for Greeks” to house homeless Greek people, but not foreigners.

Members of the group, who fenced off the area with barbed wire, had, reportedly, launched an appeal with the Council of State, the country’s highest legal court, against the Mosque’s construction. Their initiative had been embraced by the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party and other extreme-right groups in what appeared to be a concerted effort to block the mosque’s construction.

Last Sunday, Golden Dawn leader Nikos Michaloliakos addressed the second of two protest rallies near the plot – formerly a Hellenic Navy base – organized by the party to denounce the idea of a mosque in Votanikos, or anywhere else.

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