No Mosques please! We are Greek

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Tuesday, April 25 2006

Religious needs of immigrants shouldn't be a matter of concern for the government, the protesters said [AFP]

Religious needs of immigrants shouldn’t be a matter of concern for the government, the protesters said [AFP]

Which EU country will not sanction the building of a mosque in its capital city? How ironic that the very city proudly claimed as the take-off point for Western civilization, is so cavalier on human rights! Little wonder that Plato leads to NATO!

Muslims in Athens lack a single purpose-built mosque – prayers are held in makeshift apartments. Time magazine (1 May 2006) reports that a mosque proposal put forward during the 2004 Olympics was shelved by the city’s mayor because a minaret on the Athens skyline ‘would give foreigners flying into the country a distorted vision of Christian Greece’. In April 2006 the Athens mosque project was resurrected by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis – so we wait and see. Muslims are left with a sense of injustice and frustration. It is a bit like Denmark – an incident waiting to happen.

The land of Plato has fallen short in other areas as well. Amnesty in its report on rendition flights ‘Below the Radar: secret flights to torture and disappearance’ documents at least eight stopovers by CIA-chartered Boeings. On 25 December 2005, the mass-circulation Greek paper Proto Themaí described the cavalier and brutal treatment of 28 Pakistani migrants after the 7 July bombings ñ apparently with full participation of the MI6 station chief in Athens. The men alleged ‘beatings, threats and psychological torture’ (The Guardian, 4 January 2006).

Our scholars at Al-Azhar recently had HRH Prince Charles sharing with them his concerns on ‘Christians living with some Muslim nations, who find themselves fettered by harsh and degrading restrictions or subject to acts of abuse’. Was there anyone in the audience who could also have reminded him of the plight of Muslims in Greece?