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article imageOp-Ed: Greek government to spend $1.1 million on Athens mosque

By Katerina Nikolas     Mar 13, 2013 in World
Athens - Athens is about to relinquish its status as the only original EU member capital city without a mosque. The mosque will be constructed at an estimated cost of $1.1 million, entirely at the expense of cash-strapped Greek taxpayers suffering austerity.
Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Avromopoulos has confirmed that plans for a mosque in the nation's capital are moving ahead. Turkey's Hurriyet Daily reported the Greek minister conceded "We should not have delayed this long."
Deputy Foreign Minister Constantinos Tsiaras admitted that the lack of a mosque in Athens "was putting Greece in a difficult situation in light of criticism from foreign countries" according to Balkan Space.
Criticism has come from many quarters. A Turkish diplomat said "The construction of a mosque in Athens is a matter of human rights and freedom of worship."
Greece has increasingly come under external pressure to spend funds it can ill afford on a mosque. Development Minister Stratos Simopoulos admitted to the BBC "the financial crisis is a problem. The government has other priorities for now, but this mosque must be constructed."
Anthonis Samaras declined a recent offer by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip. Erdogan offered to build a mosque in the Greek capital at Turkey's expense. Erodgan has reigned over a mosque building spree in Turkey during his ten years in power.
Ansamed reported 17,000 new mosques have been built in Turkey, with the secular opposition accusing Erodgan of trying to "re-Islamisize" the country. Speaking at a United Nations conference recently Erodgan received criticism for saying: “As is the case for Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism, it is inevitable that Islamophobia be considered a crime against humanity.”
Tsiaras has stated that once the Athens mosque is complete it will belong to the Greek state. However, much of the Greek state is up for sale to the highest bidder in order to attract funds to pay off the country's creditors. The Troika regularly complains Greece's efforts to sell off the family silver are moving too slowly. Thus the mosque, once completed at the expense of the Greek people, may become an asset the state is forced to offer for sale and which could then be snapped up at a bargain price by an outside government or Islamic group.
Many segments of Greek society are opposed to government spending on the planned mosque in light of the financial crisis, previous Ottoman occupation of Greece, and the fact that the mosque will cater to the demands of many illegal immigrants.
The point that many miss is that once the latest state asset is built it will most likely be forced onto the open market by Troika demands. The Troika remain tight-lipped over their opinion on the Greek government spending on the mosque project despite insisiting on cut backs in most other areas.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about athens mosque, Recep Tayyip Erdoan, new mosques Turkey, Dimitris Avromopoulos
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