Athens’s Muslim population will be able to celebrate the Islamic holy month of Ramadan – which starts on August 1 and ends on August 30 – on the grounds of the Olympic Stadium of Athens (OAKA) and the Peace and Friendship Stadium (SEF) in the southern suburb of Neo Faliro, the Education and Religion Ministry has said.
The decision to offer the venues to Muslim worshippers followed a meeting of four general secretaries and was made “in the context of respect for religious freedom and human rights,” the ministry said. The initiative is aimed at averting the chances of large crowds of Muslims gathering in city squares, which occurred last year and fueled ethnic tensions, sources said.
Muslim Union of Greece head Naim El-Ghandour welcomed the move, saying worshippers had been renting OAKA’s grounds to celebrate Ramadan since 2004, except last year when the cash was spent on helping destitute Muslims. Groups which would like to make use of these centers should send their applications to SEF and OAKA by August 17.