While there are scores of unofficial prayer rooms throughout the country and a state-paid first official mosque is set to begin operation in Athens in the autumn, three Muslims were charged for adding a prayer room to a prefabricated building.
Ilyaz Gundogan Ahmetoglu, the imam of the Drosero (Serin Mahalle) neighborhood in the city of Xanthi, was arrested with two other people, Ahmet Hraloglu, a local Muslim cleric, told the Turkish Anadolu Agency.
Xanthi is part of Greece’s Western Thrace region, which has a population of some 150,000 Muslim Turks dating back centuries and Hraloglu said the three were arrested while trying to add a small section to their prefab so they could pray there, the news agency added.
He added that the prefab structure was meant to house the neighborhood’s culture association and that the arrests were made for unauthorized construction.
Those charged were said to have been released by a court on condition that the group’s administrators get the necessary construction permits and documents within a month.
Hraloglu said the court warned that if work continues without authorization, they could face a fine of up to €50,000 ($56,158.)
Amhetoglu said that Drosero lacks a proper mosque, forcing local Muslims to do their obligatory prayers at makeshift sites which has been happening for years at makeshift places such as basements and industrial buildings.