Muslims Complain Greece Won’t Allow Mosque in Thessaloniki

Αssociated Press

Muslims who live in Greece pray inside the first state-funded mosque in Athens on Friday, Nov. 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

THESSALONIKI - After the opening of a state-paid official mosque in Athens, Muslims in the country’s second-largest city of Thessaloniki said the government won’t provide one for them there or let them open their own.

Turkey’s pro-government newspaper The Daily Sabah charged that Greece’s New Democracy - which opened the Athens mosque - was violating freedom of religion for Muslims without mentioning Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan changed the ancient Aghia Sophia church in Constantinople into a mosque.

The Macedonia-Thrace Muslims Education Culture Foundation made a formal application for the opening of a place of worship after completing the necessary preliminary preparations in line with legal regulations, the paper said, a process that took two years.

The report said thatGreece's Education and Religion Ministry left the process in limbo, while it rejected the application on the basis of a lack of additional documents and technical details.

“Greece, which does not open the existing mosques, also does not show Muslims another place for their worship. Our applications to conduct our worship in our foundation have been also rejected with excuses outside the legal regulations," a statement from the foundation said.

Turkey has long complained that a Muslim minority in Greece is being denied rights under the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne - which Turkey doesn’t recognize unless invoking to its advantage.

Greece also won’t let Muslims choose their own mufti’s, or religious leaders, another sore point for them.