The Muslim Community of Greece had been waiting decades to receive the Government permission for erecting a mosque in Athens, but even now, when the Government is willing to give almost 1 million Euro for the construction works, Muslims are still far from making their dream come true.
At least three attempts to find a contractor failed within several months. Local newspaper “Kathimerini” assumes the reason no construction company is willing to get this contract is a dread of revenge from those who are against this plan, the ANSAmed reports.
A fourth attempt will be made next month after three tenders were deserted as several companies did not bid, fearing threats and intimidations by far-right groups like the neo-Nazi Χρυσή Αυγή (Golden Dawn) or by residents of the capital's Votanikos district, where the mosque should be built.
Speaking to the newspaper, Stratos Simopoulos, secretary general of the infrastructure ministry, said the next bid for tenders for the mosque, which is worth 946,000 euros, will be limited to large companies. The daily also interviewed managers with a number of smaller contractors who had expressed interest in the project. They all admitted concern over the fact that the majority of the local population strongly opposed the idea of a mosque in Athens, which has a population of 300.000 Muslims and is one of the very few European capitals still without a proper place of worship for the Islamic community.
In order to cut costs due to the country's serious economic crisis, the Greek government has decided not to build the mosque from scratch but to build it from an old site which will be renovated. Gardens and praying areas will also be created outside the mosque, which will not have a minaret but will be able to host up to 350 people.
Four buildings around the site will be destroyed and new structures will be created in their place for the mosque's administration offices and restrooms.