Greek Muslims Fear Hagia Sophia Retaliation May Delay Mosque in Athens Despite Decade-long Wait
After Turkey grew to become Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia museum again to a mosque, Muslims in Athens concern their very own legitimate position of worship, not on time for over a decade, will likely be held again once more.
The mission to open a state-sanctioned mosque in Athens, the one Ecu capital that doesn’t have one, used to be introduced in 2007. But it surely straight away bumped into sturdy opposition from the influential Orthodox Church, in addition to from nationalist teams.
“I feel after this incident, it may well be much more tough to open the legitimate mosque that we’ve got awaited for ten years,” says Imam Atta-ul Naseer, who runs a makeshift mosque in a central Athens rental.
An architectural wonder of the sixth century, the Hagia Sophia Byzantine basilica used to be transformed right into a mosque in 1453 after the seize of Constantinople via the Ottomans.
In 1934, the founding father of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, grew to become the monument right into a museum as a logo of secular Turkey.
However in July, a best Turkey courtroom dominated that Hagia Sophia might be reconverted right into a mosque.
‘A mosque is a mosque’
“I feel a mosque must stay a mosque. It must no longer turn into a church or no matter. Simply as Christians be expecting Hagia Sophia to stay a church, Muslims be expecting the similar,” says Imam Naseer.
The legitimate mosque in Athens, with out a minaret and beneath the supervision of the Greek state, is predicted to open via the tip of autumn within the business district of Elaionas, northeast of Athens. However within the intervening time, to satisfy the necessities of a Muslim neighborhood of just about 300,000 other folks, a large number of makeshift mosques, in flats, basements, or even sheds, were created in previous years.
Naseer believes that historical Ottoman mosques in Athens, like the only at the central Monastiraki sq. which has been reworked right into a museum, can have served as a spot of worship for Muslims.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has himself proposed this to Greek leaders up to now.
However the topic is subtle in a rustic which used to be occupied via the Ottoman Empire for hundreds of years, prior to regaining its independence within the 19th century.
In Greece, anti-Turkish sentiment stays sturdy and the present rigidity between the 2 international locations over migration and effort exploration within the jap Mediterranean reinforces this animosity.
“In Greek hearts, the Muslim remains to be related to the Turkish invader”, notes Naseer. Residing in Greece for the previous seven years, the Pakistan-born imam has confronted racism and on occasion even violence via neo-Nazi militants.
“However basically, Christians and Muslims reside in combination peacefully,” he says.
In an try to keep watch over the makeshift mosques, the Greek state units strict operational regulations.
Operators should sign in the identify of the non secular consultant and his background, the selection of common worshippers, and the established order’s assets of source of revenue.
The prayer corridor should additionally meet protection requirements, which come with having a fireplace alarm, sanitary amenities, and an emergency go out.
“The procedures are difficult and take time. Few mosques have acquired lets in from the ministry,” Naseer says.
Within the Pakistani quarter of Athens, a inexperienced door stands proud in a buying groceries lane: the doorway to the Al Jabbar Mosque.
Bangladeshi Imam Abu Bakr proudly issues to the coveted ministry file, pasted on a wall. “Since 2017, now we have been running legally,” he says.
“The legitimate mosque that the Greek state desires to open is a long way from the middle of Athens the place many Muslim refugees reside and will most effective accommodate 350 other folks anyway.”
“Unofficial mosques that turn into prison, like ours, will, due to this fact, stay vital to Muslims who want to follow
their religion in Athens,” Abu Bakr notes.
The one mosques courting from the Ottoman generation which can be these days running in Greece are situated within the border area with Turkey, in Thrace, the place a Turkish minority of 150,000 other folks reside.