The Greek capital has a population of 1.3 million people and is home to some 500,000 Muslims, but despite their religious diversity, many don’t pray in public.
It’s an issue the Islamic Society of Athens (ISAZ), which has been running an Islamic centre in the city for about five years, has been trying to tackle.
It has a long history of building mosques, and in 2010 it won a government grant to build the first of its kind in the country.
The ISAZ, a religious organisation which is officially designated by the Ministry of Religious Affairs as a political party, is the third largest Muslim organisation in Greece and its aim is to build mosques.
This year the group had its first mosque, built by an Egyptian company, built in a building that was owned by a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood.
It also opened a new mosque for the first time in central Athens, built with help from a private donor.
“The mosque we built is part of a long tradition of Islamic building, a long legacy of which is the presence of the imams in public spaces,” said the imam of the mosque, Dr Salah Al-Din.
The building of a mosque has been a long time coming for the ISAZ and the project was launched last year.
“We’re not sure how we will get to the point where we can build one in Athens,” said Dr Al-Ghasani.
He added that the ISaz has made no secret of its desire to build a mosque, and that it has been working with local officials and the Greek Ministry of Culture, Arts and Tourism (GACE).
The ISaz’s main concern is that it will become a target for the anti-Islamic rhetoric that has been growing in Greece.
“In the past two years we’ve seen a spike in anti-Muslim sentiment, and now there is an increasing level of xenophobia.
We have been told that we should build mosques for the sake of Islam.
This is a direct threat to our faith and our culture,” Dr Al Ghasani said.
He said the ISAz is also concerned that if the mosque is built, it will be used for religious purposes, and the religious institutions in Athens, as well as the Greek state, will be threatened.
“I don’t think we should take this project lightly.
We are not religious extremists,” he said.
The imam also said that he is hopeful that the Islamic society in Athens will continue to be able to build its mosque, which has become a popular attraction.
“It’s the only mosque in the world which is built by people of all religions.
We need it because people are afraid of us, and we want to make it a good place for our community to worship.”
Dr Al Ghhasani also told the Greek daily newspaper Kathimerini that the government would not be satisfied with the mosque being built by the ISZA, saying it will need more funding to support the project.
“But we are in a situation now where we are able to do this without raising any opposition.
The Greek government has not accepted our demands to allow the mosque to be built, but they are listening to us,” he added.
According to a government report released last year, the government is prepared to spend up to €15 million to build, renovate and install a mosque in Athens.
The report says that the money will be raised through private donations and a tourism investment fund.