World Athens Muslims Fear Mosque Delay After Hagia Sophia Conversion

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After Turkey turned Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia museum back to a mosque, Muslims in Athens fear their own official place of worship, delayed for over a decade, will be held back again.

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The project to open a state-sanctioned mosque in Athens, the only European capital that does not have one, was launched in 2007.

But it immediately ran into strong opposition from the influential Orthodox Church, as well as from nationalist groups.

Worshippers take part in the Eid al-Adha prayers outside Hagia Sophia in IstanbulWorshippers take part in the Eid al-Adha prayers outside Hagia Sophia in Istanbul Photo: AFP / Ozan KOSE

“I think after this incident, it might be even more difficult to open the official mosque that we have awaited for ten years,” says Imam Atta-ul Naseer, who runs a makeshift mosque in a central Athens apartment.

An architectural marvel of the 6th century, the Hagia Sophia Byzantine basilica was converted into a mosque in 1453 after the capture of Constantinople by the Ottomans.

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