Greece reopens historic mosque for Eid celebration


By AGENCY

An aerial view of the historic Yeni Cami, or New Mosque, in the port city of Thessaloniki, northern Greece. On Wednesday, Eid prayers were held in the historic former mosque in northern Greece for the first time in 100 years. Photo: AP

Greece on Wednesday reopened an historic mosque in the northern city of Thessaloniki for the first time in over a century to allow prayers marking Eid al-Fitr, the celebration ending Ramadan.

Around 100 people attended prayers at the Yeni Mosque, last used in this capacity in the early 1920s, before a war between Greece and Turkey led to a population exchange that whittled away the city's Muslim population.

"We are fortunate that it opened for us," said Ismael Bedredin, a 66-year-old retired furniture maker.

Egyptian Imam Taha Abd El-Galil stands in front of Yeni Mosque which opened for the first time after more than a century for Muslim prayers during the Eid celebration in Thessaloniki, Greece on April 10. Photo: Reuters Egyptian Imam Taha Abd El-Galil stands in front of Yeni Mosque which opened for the first time after more than a century for Muslim prayers during the Eid celebration in Thessaloniki, Greece on April 10. Photo: Reuters

"I've lived in Thessaloniki for four years and this is the first time I'm given the opportunity to pray with my Muslim family," added Ali, a 23-year-old Turkish economics student who declined to give his surname.

Greek police guarded the building during the ceremony.

The Yeni Mosque, built in 1902 by Italian architect Vitaliano Poselli, was at the time used by the Donme, Jews who had outwardly converted to Islam.

The two-floor building was briefly used in 1922 to house refugees of the Greco-Turkish War. It later became an archaeological museum and municipal gallery.

People pray at the historic Yeni Cami, or New Mosque, in the port city of Thessaloniki, northern Greece on April 10. Photo: AP People pray at the historic Yeni Cami, or New Mosque, in the port city of Thessaloniki, northern Greece on April 10. Photo: AP

Greece is a predominantly Orthodox Christian country, and Muslim places of worship are mainly in Thrace, a region in the northeast of the country near the Greek-Turkish border that is home to a centuries-old Muslim minority.

In Athens, the number of Muslims had been negligible since the Greco-Turkish War, but their numbers rose during the 2015 refugee crisis.

The first official new mosque in Athens opened in November 2020, taking more than a decade to complete after running into strong opposition from the Orthodox Church, as well as from nationalist groups. - AFP

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Greece , historic , mosque , Eid , celebration , prayers , Muslim

   

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