Council of State greenlights Athens mosque

Council of State greenlights Athens mosque

The general assembly of the state council has rejected an appeal to prevent the construction of a mosque in Votanikos and its financing by the Greek state.

Theo Ioannou

The Council of State approved a state funding of 1.1 million euros for the mosque's construction on land belonging to the Hellenic Navy in Votanikos. The country's highest administrative court ruled that the legislative framework for the mosque construction does not violate the principles of equality and freedom of expression of religious belief, instead it protects the Muslims' rights.

The ruling says that the construction of the mosque is necessary for a country committed by signed international treaties and by its Constitution that guarantees the free exercise of religion. Bishop Seraphim of Piraeus, the Cultural Association 'Athena', two officials of the Hellenic Navy and five Votanikos residents had motioned an appeal against the state's decision to construct the mosque in the area.

A year ago, a bidding for the construction of the mosque caused the reaction of far-right groups like the neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn, who initialized a number of violent protests against the plans.

Athens is the only European capital without a mosque for its over 200.000 Muslim residents.

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