Last June, after waiting for 180 years, a new mosque nominally opened in Athens .
But the mosque is till without an imam, thus making it not yet officially open for worship, and forcing Muslims to continue observing prayer in malls and garages.
Now, the country is making the matter worse with its latest decision to close one of the oldest Muslim prayer halls in the greater Athens metropolitan area.
Since 1989, the Al-Andalus prayer hall has been operating in Piraeus, a port city just 12 kilometers from Athens.
Now, the Education and Religious Affairs Ministry has given Muslims a 15-day notice to clear the premises.
“We are sad to announce that we received a closure order for one of the oldest prayer halls of the capital…without any chance of negotiating with the ministry,” said the Muslim Association of Greece in a press release cited by Anadolu Agency.
“We believe that acceptance and recognition is evolving in society,” said the press release.
“That is why we consider this unexpected closing a symbolic act on behalf of the government that wants to suppress religious expression when it is not coming from the predominant religion.”
Tens of thousands of Muslim migrants live in the greater Athens area. They have been using informal prayer rooms in basements and disused stores.
Debates about the construction of a mosque in Athens started decades ago. Until now, Athens remains the only European capital city without a mosque.
The long-delayed first state-sponsored mosque was supposed to begin operating in September.