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Athens’ first mosque ready to open

Baku, April 5, AZERTAC

Works on the exterior areas of the first mosque in the Greek capital since the end of the Ottoman empire have been completed and the finishing touches are being made, Kathimerini daily newspaper reports.

The mosque’s mihrab – a niche in the wall indicating the direction of Mecca, toward which all Muslims pray – is in place.

Greek Education and Religious Affairs Minister Costas Gavroglou is soon expected to approve the candidate presented by the committee overseeing the prayer site’s operation for the mosque’s imam.

Earlier, the administrative committee presented Moroccan-born Zaki Mohammed as its candidate for the position of imam to the Education Minister.

Mohammed, aged 50, came to Greece about 25 years ago. He holds Greek citizenship and is the father of two children. He speaks Arabic, Greek and French and has studied theology and mathematics. He is an imam at one of the five makeshift prayer rooms in Athens that have received permits from the state.

The decision to select Mohammed, who is reportedly held in high esteem among the Greek capital’s Arabs, was unanimous and was taken after examining his qualifications and a personal interview, the sources said.

The mosque is expected to open its doors soon after Orthodox Easter, which falls on April 28 this year, in time for Ramadan, which starts on May 6. It will be open from half an hour before the first prayer and up to half an hour after the last, while it will operate on a 24-hour basis during Ramadan and other holidays.

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