Incidents were noted at the region of Votanikos, 3km west of the Athens center, when a group of people occupied the abandoned building benchmarked for the construction of the city’s proposed mosque. The group of around 20 people said they were claiming the building on behalf of the homeless. The same group is known to have appealed against the decision to create a mosque in Votanikos with a legal action submitted to the Council of State.
“This is a hot spot for Greeks only,” occupiers told reporters. A sign outside the building is marked “Homeless Shelter.” Members of the group inside the building are stationed outside, dressed in military uniform. People in military uniform are stationed outside the occupied building to obstruct others from entering. The group locked down the building and surrounded the entrances and windows with barbed wire.
Athens Mayor George Kaminis, whose municipality owns the site, expressed his objection to the occupation. The ruling Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party also criticized the action that has racist overtones.
The construction of the first mosque in Athens had been delayed for decades due to controversy and opposition by pro-Orthodox Christian groups.