Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Muslims open first prayer site in Athens

Expand Messages
  • Teresa A. Polychronis
    ... From: Liz M... Subject: AP: Muslims open first prayer site in Athens ... International human rights reports, including a 2005 report on religious freedom
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 25, 2007
    • 0 Attachment
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Liz M...
      Subject: AP: Muslims open first prayer site in Athens


      ... International human rights reports, including a 2005 report on religious
      freedom issued by the U.S. State Department, had criticized Greece for
      failing to provide an official prayer site for Muslims in Athens.


      http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070622/ap_on_re_eu/greece_muslims_1

      Muslims open first prayer site in Athens
      By DEREK GATOPOULOS, Associated Press Writer

      Fri Jun 22, 4:38 PM ET

      Immigrant groups on Friday opened the first formal Islamic prayer site to
      operate in Athens since rule by the Turks of the Ottoman Empire ended more
      than 170 years ago.

      Plans by Greece's government to build a mosque for tens of thousands of
      Muslim immigrants living in the capital have stalled, so businessmen in Arab
      countries financed the downtown cultural center.

      "This is the first time in all the 35 years I've lived in Greece that we
      have a proper place to pray," said Naim El-Gandour, the Egyptian-born head
      of the Muslim Association of Greece. "It's hard for me to describe what's
      happening. I am overcome with emotion."

      Most Muslims in Athens use makeshift mosques for prayer, including
      basements, apartments and converted coffee shops. For weddings, funerals and
      other important rites, they often travel more than 435 miles to Thrace, a
      region with a Turkish-speaking Muslim minority of 120,000 people.

      More than 1,000 mostly Arab immigrants gathered for the official opening of
      the cultural center and prayer site, with men in traditional Islamic dress
      kneeling beside laborers in overalls.

      El-Gandour said he did not know how much was spent on the center, a
      19,500-square-foot space converted from a former textile factory. It has
      large prayer rooms, flat-screen televisions and uniformed volunteer
      stewards.

      Representatives of Muslim organizations in Europe attended along with
      representatives of the Iranian and Saudi Arabian embassies, senior imams
      from Muslim countries and a representative of Greece's Orthodox Church.

      Plans to build a mosque in Athens have been unpopular, because of their
      association with centuries of rule by the Ottoman Empire, which ended in
      1833 after a long rebellion. Some 97 percent of Greece's native-born
      population of 11 million is baptized Orthodox Christian.

      But last year, the government promised to spend $20 million for an Athens
      mosque by 2009. The Education and Religious Affairs Ministry will name a
      committee to choose the head imam, but says individual communities will be
      allowed to bring their own imams to the mosque.

      International human rights reports, including a 2005 report on religious
      freedom issued by the U.S. State Department, had criticized Greece for
      failing to provide an official prayer site for Muslims in Athens.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.