EUROPE > Turkey will not assist Athens’ mosque project: Greek gov’t official

ATHENS – Anatolia News Agency

Print Page Send to friend »
Muslim immigrants pray in a basement of a building in Athens November 30, 2012. Athens is the only European capital without a place of worship for Muslims, said Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Constantinos Tsiaras on Feb. 7. REUTERS photo

Muslim immigrants pray in a basement of a building in Athens November 30, 2012. Athens is the only European capital without a place of worship for Muslims, said Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Constantinos Tsiaras on Feb. 7. REUTERS photo

A Greek government official denied on Feb. 7 that there was any agreement with Turkey regarding a mosque project in Athens. 

Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Constantinos Tsiaras told Greek deputies during a parliamentary meeting that the mosque in Athens would be built entirely with the country’s own financial resources and was not a specific topic on the agenda of Turkish-Greek diplomacy. 

“We have told the Turkish [officials] that they continuously try to bring into question this subject in line with their policy in recent years of protecting the rights of Muslims throughout the world… The Greek state has taken this initiative aiming to address the needs of the Muslim population residing in or visiting Athens by offering a place of worship,” said Tsiaras in response to a parliamentary question from the far-right Golden Dawn party. 

It has been reported that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan offered his Greek counterpart Ankara’s help in building a mosque in Athens during a surprise meeting of the two heads of state in Doha on Jan. 30, on the sidelines of Erdoğan’s official visit to Qatar. The meeting took place amid renewed talk of reopening Istanbul’s Halki Greek Orthodox Seminary. The Education Ministry and Turkey’s Higher Education Board (YÖK) have accelerated work for its reopening upon instructions from Erdoğan, the Turkish media had reported. Although Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç didn’t deny the possibility of reopening the Halki Seminary, he strongly criticized the Greek government’s attitude toward Muslims on Jan. 28, particularly on the needs of muftis in the northeastern Western Thrace region, where an important community of Muslim Turks live.  

The mosque to be built without a minaret

Tsiaras acknowledged the offers of assistance during the parliamentary session but said the government had declined the financial aid. He also noted that Athens was the only European capital without a place of worship for Muslims, emphasizing that this was putting Greece in a difficult situation in light of criticism from foreign countries.  

The mosque will be built in an old navy complex in the Elaiona district of the capital. According to the project, the mosque will be built without a minaret in order to avoid changing the district’s landscape. The Greek state will own the property, while the mosque will be managed by a committee comprising five Greek officials and two Muslims. The imam will be appointed by the Greek Ministry of Educations, Tsiaras added.  


PRINTER FRIENDLY Send to friend »


Notice on comments


2/12/2013 1:49:52 AM

... the no. of Pakistanis with residency, i.e., legal. True, it covers all of Greece, but for 2005. Bearing in mind most of them live in Athens, estimate of around 20K legal Pakistanis in today’s Athens is much more realistic than the 99.99% figure you’ve plucked from the air for all illegal Muslims. 50,000 or 70,000 is an estimate and gives no indication of how many are legal, that’s why I didn’t quote it. You're not doing too bad on the “unstoppable urge to have the final word" front yourself.


2/12/2013 1:48:02 AM

Harry Foundalis, I didn’t say the Greek government does not pay the salaries of Muslim clerics. I didn’t claim you were one sided regarding Orthodox vs Muslim. I didn’t say most Muslims in Athens aren’t illegal. Earlier, I didn’t say Greek government pays to build churches. Please read what I’ve said carefully. My point is that Greek government already subsidises religion, so why not give the Muslims of Athens a place to worship? The 20331 figure comes from the ministry of interior and it's ...

Harry Foundalis

2/11/2013 7:10:04 PM

Baris, your source does not refer to 20,331 *legal* Pakistanis, but tries to estimate the *total number* of Pakistanis, and in *Greece*, not Athens. In the next paragraph it says that the total number might be higher (50,000 or 70,000). It makes no claim that all those people are legal. Next time read more carefully. I stand by my statement that the vast majority of Muslims in Athens are illegal. If not 99.99%, as I said, then somewhere close to that.

Harry Foundalis

2/11/2013 6:48:38 PM

Baris, I understand your unstoppable urge to have the final word, but in following your urges you talk about things you don’t know enough of. The Greek State pays for the salaries not only of the Orthodox priests, but also of the Muslim imams of Thrace, already since 2008 (google it: muslim imams Thrace salaries). No one-sidedness there. And I object to *all* payments to religions — period. And, no, illegals don’t deserve places of worship. Once they go, such places are rendered useless.


2/11/2013 1:04:39 PM

Harry, Foundalis, I take your point on the article being on building a mosque and that you would've complained if it was about a church as well. My issue is that having stated that virtually all Muslims in Athens are illegal, you gave the impression that they don't deserve any help from the Greek Government about their religious need. They do, simply because the Greek Government already subsidises the church to the tune of several hundred million Euros per year.


2/11/2013 12:54:42 PM

Harry Foundalis, google "Pakistani immigrants in Greece: from changing pattern of migrationto Diaspora politics and transnationalism" and follow the link to the "lse" site to read a report by Mr Inam Ullah Leghari from University of the Aegean, Greece. He says the number of Pakistanis issued with work permit and residence is 20,331 (according to Eleftheros Typos in 2005). I didn't mention new churches being built, I mentioned priests' salaries and tax exemptions for the church, which are true.

Harry Foundalis

2/11/2013 9:47:50 AM

Baris, firstly I'd like you to bring evidence for your claim of 20,000 *legal* Pakistanis in Athens. Secondly, even if there is a single Muslim OR Christian, I don't want my money to be spent for the beliefs of people who believe in a fairy on the sky. The article was about building a *mosque* in Athens. If it was about a church, I would complain equally. However, almost all churches in Greece are built with the donations of local communities. If you had lived in Greece you would know that.


2/10/2013 10:59:36 PM

Harry Foundalis, I too am an atheist but I find your comment to be unfair. 99.99% of the people benefiting from the mosque being illegal is simply not true. Number of legal Pakistanis in Athens alone is around 20K. There are many more legal Albanians, Egyptians and Greek Muslims on top of that. Greek government pays more than €200M each year in salaries to Greek Orthodox priests plus the Greek Church gets lucrative tax deals. If anything, as an atheist you should be complaining about that.

cezer "çapulcu" skonore

2/10/2013 8:59:09 PM

Harry Foundalis: Your tax money is going some people's bank accounts outside Greece. If it is spent for this mosque, at least, it would stay in Greece.

ismail demir

2/10/2013 7:29:26 PM

Rather than Athen mosque, Turkish government should demand greeks to lift ban building and repairing mosques and stoping stealing muslim foundations incomes by greek apointed officials.And Greece demands millions of fees from muslim foundations without reason to confiscate them. @nikos, greece accepted in Lozan agreement all greek schools and churchs (including Trabzon) in Turkey belong to Turkish state except istanbul and islands.
< >


AcerPro S.I.P.A HTML & CSS Agency