The first official mosque in the Greek capital is set to open in May just in time for the holy month of Ramadan.
This marks the first mosque to ever open since the end of the Ottoman rule.
The mosque, which is located in the Votakinos neighborhood, will accommodate 300 men and 50 women, and will operate on a 24-hour basis during Ramadan and other holy holidays. It will also include auxiliary rooms and an office for the imam and the muezzin.
The administrative committee running the mosque has unanimously nominated a Moroccan-born, Zaki Mohamed, as the official imam for the mosque. He came to Greece about 25 years ago, and is the imam at one of the five makeshift prayer rooms in Athens.
The Athens area has some 250,000 Muslims and about 70 unauthorized prayer rooms in basements, warehouses and other makeshift area. The construction of the mosque has been plagued by delays and protests by far-right and religious groups, including the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn which has threatened violence against it.
It has cost some 800,000 euros ($898,804) but Naim Elghandour, President of the Muslim Association has complained it’s too small. He told Thema 104.6 radio earlir that the grey, boxy, nearly-windowless mosque looks more like a big kiosk than a place of worship to replace the unofficial mosques Muslims have been setting up in basements and elsewhere.
“Is this the mosque they’ve been telling us about for so many years?” He said that the mosque, which will have no minarets or loudspeakers, will fit just 300 men and 50 women. Greece, he claimed, has a Muslim population of around 500,000 people, which would be some 5 percent of the country’s population.
The 1,000-square meter facility will include a worship area for 300 men, a worship area for 50 women, auxiliary rooms, an office for the imam and an office for the muezzin.