ATHENS – A bill to speed the building of Greece’s first official mosque ran into objections from the partner in the country’s ruling coalition.
The tiny, pro-austerity, far-right, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL), whose leader Panos Kammenos is Defense Minister, rejected the motion put forward by the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA party it serves.
The two parties are ideological far left and far right opposites but Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras needed ANEL’s nine votes in Parliament to control the body.
The bill was approved at committee level ahead of a vote in the House’s plenary session scheduled for Aug. 4, with all but ANEL and the extreme-right Golden Dawn voting against it and the Union of Centrists expressing reservations, Kathimerini said.
ANEL has from time to time broken with SYRIZA but been disregarded as marginal and tolerated by Tsipras.
ANEL bolted on votes on boosting rights for second-generation migrants and gay couples last year.
The new bill would allow release of 946,000 euros ($1,054,000) from state monies for the construction of the capital’s first official mosque on a patch of land in the Votanikos district that formerly belonged to the Hellenic Navy.
Greece passed a law in 2006 to build a mosque in Athens with public money over ferocious objections from critics who didn’t want it built or wanted the Muslim community, which now prays in unofficial mosques, to pay for their own.
Although the plot in Votanikos was set aside, the construction of the mosque was held back by a series of legal appeals against the project.