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Greek capital’s first formal mosque in more than 180 years is set to open for prayer within months

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Greece’s education and religion minister says the country’s long-delayed first state-sponsored mosque is likely to begin operating in September, about three years after its construction was approved by Parliament.

Kostas Gavroglou spoke during a visit to the nearly complete mosque on the outskirts of the Athens city Centre, accompanied by representatives of the Muslim community. Its construction has been controversial, with some opposing a mosque in the Greek capital.

“It is particularly good that soon there will be the first prayer from the imam of the Athens mosque. We hope this will happen in September at the latest,” Gavroglou said.

Supervised by the Greek state, the 350-capacity mosque, which has neither minaret nor dome, is situated in the industrial area of Eleonas, near a refugee camp.

For the Muslims of Athens, it is the result of a long-fought battle – and the city’s first formal mosque in more than 180 years.

Tens of thousands of Muslim migrants live in the greater Athens area, and have been using informal prayer rooms in basements and disused stores.

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