The Muslim community in Thessaloniki is requesting the construction of a Mosque in the city – the Greek government funded the building of the first Islamic Mosque in the country recently in Athens.
Turkey’s pro-government newspaper The Daily Sabah accused the Greek government of violating freedom of religion for Muslims in Thessaloniki as it had rejected legal demands for the construction of a place of worship. The piece, of course, failed to make any mention of the decision by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to change the ancient Aghia Sophia Church (operating as a UNESCO Museum) in Constantinople into a mosque.
An Islamic group called “Macedonia-Thrace Muslims Education Culture Foundation” lodged 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 that Greece’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.
Members of the foundation slammed the decision saying that Greece wants to imply that Muslims in Thessaloniki and its surrounding areas should pray in the streets if they demand communal worship, as the report says.
“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,” they said.
Turkey has long complained that a Muslim minority in Greece is being denied rights under the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne – at Treaty Turkey rarely cites or even recognises unless invoking to promote to its advantage.