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Thread: Athens - the EU capital city without a mosque

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    Elite Member Waterslide's Avatar
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    Default Athens - the EU capital city without a mosque

    Athens - the EU capital city without a mosque

    By Mark Lowen BBC News, Athens

    Some 300,000 Muslims are said to live in Athens

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    At Friday prayers and across Athens, Muslims gather in underground, cramped prayer rooms.
    The makeshift facilities are illegal but this huge community faces no other option. Athens, a metropolis on the edge of the Muslim world, is one of the few EU capitals without a mosque.
    Since Greece gained independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1832, no government has allowed a mosque to be built in the city. It was seen by many as "un-Greek" - out of place in a country in which much more than 90% of the population are Orthodox Christians.
    But as Greece has become the main entry point for migrants to the EU, its Muslim population has swelled.
    Some estimates place the number of Muslims in Athens alone at around 300,000, in a city with a population of around five million, and the clamour for an official place of prayer is growing.
    "It is a very big tragedy for us Muslims that there is no mosque here," says Syed Mohammad Jamil from the Pakistan-Hellenic Society.
    "Greece produced democracy and civilisation and the respect of religion - but they don't respect our Muslims to provide us with a regular, legal mosque."
    One of the Friday worshippers, Ashifaq Ahmad, says: "I feel somehow cut off from society.
    "When we have a celebration, there is nowhere proper for us to get together. Society is not accepting us."
    Barracks plan Pressure on the government to provide a secure, protected mosque has grown as the neo-fascist Golden Dawn party continues to rise.
    This disused barracks is being earmarked as the site of a mosque
    Its members stand accused of beating immigrants and vandalising some of the underground prayer rooms.
    The party's deputy, Ilias Panagiotaros, told me earlier in the year that landmines should be placed on Greece's border with Turkey, saying: "If immigrants die trying to jump into our country, that's their problem."
    Now perhaps the call for a place of worship may be answered.
    A disused army barracks near the city centre has been chosen as a site for the capital's first mosque.
    Behind heavy gates lie old buildings, broken glass and rubble strewn across the floors. The crumbling shells currently there would be torn down, making space for a mosque that could accommodate 500 people.
    If it is built, Muslims entering would catch sight of a small church next door, the two religions finally operating officially shoulder to shoulder.
    The government insists the project will go ahead, but similar plans have been promised in the past - only to fall foul of political infighting.
    And the financial crisis could still blow the idea off course. A government struggling to afford schoolbooks or healthcare may find it hard to announce 1m euros (£814,000; $1.3m) for a state-funded mosque.
    "In the past, there was a fear in some segments of Greek society about constructing a mosque but we must overcome that fear," says Stratos Simopoulos, the secretary general of the ministry for development.
    "The financial crisis is a problem. The government has other priorities for now, but this mosque must be constructed and we may be in a position to start the process in a few months."
    I ask whether he is committed to the plan.
    "Of course", he replies, "because it's not my commitment - it's a commitment of the Greek state."
    And yet there is still resistance within the country.
    'Islamic tyranny' The Greek Church has warmed to the mosque idea but some senior ecclesiastical figures remain opposed.
    Continue reading the main story “Start Quote

    Greece suffered five centuries of Islamic tyranny under Turkish rule and building a mosque would offend the martyrs who freed us”
    Bishop Seraphim
    In a packed service in St Nicolas's Church in Piraeus, just outside Athens, the strength of religious devotion is clear.
    Members of the congregation kiss the icons and repeatedly cross themselves. Orthodox Christianity goes to the heart of what it means to be Greek and the Bishop here, Seraphim, says his nation must preserve its identity.
    "Greece suffered five centuries of Islamic tyranny under Turkish rule and building a mosque would offend the martyrs who freed us," he says.
    Greece, he adds, "does not hate anyone" but he believes that "most Muslims have come here illegally" to, as he puts it, "Islamise Europe".
    I put it to him that his position appears Islamophobic, out of touch with a multicultural European Union, and his response may betray other prejudices too.
    "We are not a multicultural country," the Greek bishop says. "We are one Greek nation and everything else is an invention of the 'new order' and of Zionism. They are trying to corrupt our character."
    'Hypocrisy' On the streets of Athens, opinions are mixed.
    "Muslims should have their temple," says Kali Patounia, a banker.
    Continue reading the main story “Start Quote
    Greek immigrants in other countries build their own churches and perform their own religion, so it's hypocritical”
    Kali Patounia Greek banker
    "Greek immigrants in other countries build their own churches and perform their own religion, so it's hypocritical."
    Marios, a student, disagrees. "We must not have a mosque here," he tells me.
    "This is a Christian country and if they want a mosque, they can go back to their own countries and have one."
    Religion is intrinsic to national identity here and Church and state are closely linked. The mosque issue has become a symbol of what sort of state today's Greece is willing to become.
    The financial crisis has made this nation more inward-looking, more fearful.
    However for Greece the decision is whether to extend its hand fully to Islam - and whether its capital will no longer stand alone in Europe.


    BBC News - Athens - the EU capital city without a mosque
    "AND WHEN YOU BECAME DENISE, I TOLD ALL YOUR COLLEAGUES, THOSE CLOWN COMICS, TO FIX THEIR HEARTS OR DIE."

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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    I wonder how many Greek Orthodox churches are in their old Muslim countries...
    effie2 likes this.
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    Super Moderator twitchy2.0's Avatar
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    Bbbut Johnny was being intolerant FIRST!!!
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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    They could make a deal with Saudi Arabia. Greece allows mosques, and Saudi Arabia allows one for any religion other than Islam. And as a bonus, they could let women drive, too.
    Sarzy, McJag, Esco and 1 others like this.

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    Elite Member effie2's Avatar
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    I dont give a shit if they build a mosque,but i wont give any tax money for it..they are skinning us alive and there is no more they can take..and yes,at least in Turkey there is only the Head of G.O church and one church inside the site.The rest are either in ruins or vandalized or turned into mosques or museums.

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    Elite Member Aella's Avatar
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    Hear hear, Effie! Yeah, it sucks for those who want to have a mosque, but it's not exactly high on the list of priorities right now.
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    Elite Member effie2's Avatar
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    There is no fucking money,national health collapsing,pensions in doubt and yeah,we need to build a big mosque..we cant even repair the cathedral for fucks sake.
    Aella,doll,glad you are fine!

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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by twitchy2.0 View Post
    Bbbut Johnny was being intolerant FIRST!!!
    But he was the BIGGEST! Greece is in a mess. If you can believe-say-Effie.
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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MohandasKGanja View Post
    They could make a deal with Saudi Arabia. Greece allows mosques, and Saudi Arabia allows one for any religion other than Islam. And as a bonus, they could let women drive, too.
    Not counting Scientology, right???
    I didn't start out to collect diamonds, but somehow they just kept piling up.-Mae West

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    Elite Member Waterslide's Avatar
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    So, I was a little confused by the story. I think on one hand it's unfortunate that there is no mosque in Athens. However, the real problem is that the government cannot afford to build one, right? If they change the law that says there can't be a mosque, and the Muslims paid to build it themselves, would that solve the problem? I personally don't think governments should pay to build any kind of place of worship, they should be built by the church itself. Is it an actual written law that states mosques can't be built there? Or is it just that no Greek government has approved a mosque to be built?
    "AND WHEN YOU BECAME DENISE, I TOLD ALL YOUR COLLEAGUES, THOSE CLOWN COMICS, TO FIX THEIR HEARTS OR DIE."

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    Elite Member effie2's Avatar
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    In any country you need permission to build anything,be it a house ,shop ,company or church.I dont think there is an application so far.It is more we need a mosque,you build us one,that has to be central and huge.There are many greek orthodox churches all over europe and the states,australia too.These were made using their own money or donations.I can understand that.You apply,get permission,buy the land .build.Now,if Muslims apply and are turned down,well,that is a different story..
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    Elite Member Karistiona's Avatar
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    Effie do you think the government will carry this through? It'd be pretty outrageous if the government paid for this, they wouldn't pay for a place of worship for another religion I bet.
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    Elite Member Aella's Avatar
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    ...well, not strictly true. The Greek Orthodox Church still gets money from the government-fucking priests get SALARIES. One of the many, MANY reasons I want actual separation of Church and State in my country.
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    Elite Member effie2's Avatar
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    Course the fucking gov pays the priests and i hate it,church is having so much money they can very well afford to pay their employees..i am all for separation too,the sooner the better..BUT the churches are build mostly from donations,i am sure about that..And let us not forget the government pays for the muslim priests up north..

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    Elite Member Waterslide's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by effie2 View Post
    In any country you need permission to build anything,be it a house ,shop ,company or church.I dont think there is an application so far.It is more we need a mosque,you build us one,that has to be central and huge.There are many greek orthodox churches all over europe and the states,australia too.These were made using their own money or donations.I can understand that.You apply,get permission,buy the land .build.Now,if Muslims apply and are turned down,well,that is a different story..
    I understand what you guys are saying. The article is very slanted (and then the BBC added in some nice racist commentary to further fuel their point). It's like mean old Athens won't let the poor Muslims have a mosque, when in reality it's more that the Greek government has paid to build one. If the Muslims raise the money to build their own place of worship (which is what they do in the US, just like the Mormons and Scientologists, and everyone else), it shouldn't be a problem as long as the government gives them approval. I don't blame the government or the people for not wanting to fund a mosque/church/synagogue and I definitely don't blame you guys for wanting separation of church and state.

    Aella, that's interesting that the Greek Orthodox Church gets paid a salary by the government. I didn't know that.
    "AND WHEN YOU BECAME DENISE, I TOLD ALL YOUR COLLEAGUES, THOSE CLOWN COMICS, TO FIX THEIR HEARTS OR DIE."

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