Athens is known as the only European capital without an official mosque. Muslims have to gather and pray in basements, storehouses and garages. Only four such places have received a state permission to function as religious prayer houses in the last years. The rest function either under other legal statuses (e.g. as cultural associations having also a room for praying) or are completely illegal. The historical background of the construction of a mosque in Athens can be found in the late 19th century and although the Greek Parliament has voted several laws and legal amendments for the establishment of the mosque, especially from 2000 onwards, this issue is still pending.
This situation has two main effects. On the one hand, the majority of Muslims living in Athens feel disappointed and frustrated because of these delays. On the other hand extreme-right wing groups, among which “Golden Dawn” is the most significant agent, are totally opposed to the construction of a mosque in Athens or anywhere else in Greece. Further to that, extreme-right wing groups have tried to delay the construction of the mosque occupying the place where it was decided to be built and holding demonstrations with the main slogans being: “No to a mosque in Athens, nor in any other place”. Further to that they have established Facebook pages with this particular topic and against Muslim immigrants and refugees. In such a context it is interesting for one to examine which is the impact of this situation upon Muslims, especially the younger ones, and those who have been born and raised in Greece or arrived at a very young age. It is also important to ask if this, among other issues, makes them feel unequal or socially excluded and perhaps susceptible to radical ideologies or if they reject radical ideologies despite such grievances. On the other side of the spectrum, it is also interesting to ask how young people of the right or the extreme-right, who are against Islam and Muslims, view the idea of having an Islamic mosque in central Athens and how they react to that. In other words, some of the main questions the PUA team will try to answer in DARE project are: Which is the role -if any- of the mosque issue in the reproduction of inequalities? Does cumulative extremism works somehow in such a situation or not? And if not, how this can be explained?