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PM on construction of mosque; illegal migration

Δημοσίευση 11 Δεκεμβρίου 2010, 10:07 / Ανανεώθηκε 27 Ιουνίου 2013, 14:55
PM on construction of mosque; illegal migration
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Prime Minister George Papandreou announced in Parliament on Friday that procedures for the construction of a mosque in the greater Athens region have been accelerated, because the right to a place of worship is fundamental, while adding that broad consensus has been achieved on the issue.

Prime Minister George Papandreou announced in Parliament on Friday that procedures for the construction of a mosque in the greater Athens region have been accelerated, because the right to a place of worship is fundamental, while adding that broad consensus has been achieved on the issue.

Responding to a tabled question by opposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) President George Karatzaferis, who referred to press reports citing an alleged “mobilisation of Muslim extremist circles in Athens”, the Greek premier said there will be a temporary place of worship for the Muslims, stressing that “25 years after a relevant pledge was undertaken by the late PM Andreas Papandreou -- Papandreou's father -- it is a shame that we still have not been able to fulfill it.”

“It is a shame because the absence of places of worship leads to the creation of semi-illegal spaces, or it forces the faithful to practice their religion outdoors, making what should be a normal event appear like an uprising or a protest,” he said, referring to a recent instance when mostly migrant Muslims from the Middle East and South Asia prayed in open squares in central Athens on the day of a Muslim religious observance.

As regards the problem of "ghettoisation" of migrants in specific urban districts, he underlined that the newly elected local authorities in Athens and Thessaloniki will work effectively against the creation of this phenomenon, stressing that the problems cannot be resolved in a xenophobic manner.

On the burning issue of illegal migration, Papandreou stated that the Frontex units have recently been deployed along the Greek borders with Turkey, following his initiative to brief OSCE that roughly 90 pct of the illegal migrants now attempting to enter Europe are crossing the Greek borders.

He stressed that an equally major issue is the integration of the legal migrants living in Greece, as well as, Turkey’s participation in the efforts against illegal migration.

“We have a bilateral agreement. That was one of the issues underlined in the recent meeting with Mr. Erdogan in order for him to realise that this is not only Greece’s problem but theirs (Turkey’s) as well; but above all it is a European problem,” Papandreou stressed.

Regarding efforts to tackle terrorism, the prime minister noted that an international collective effort is necessary in order to combat the spectre of terrorism. He also stated that such phenomena in Greece -- exclusively urban terror acts by so-called "anti-state" and self-styled anarchists’ cells -- are being dealt with by law enforcement authorities in compliance with existing legislation.

In addition, he assured that all necessary security measures are being taken to protect “sensitive spaces and installations”.

 

Karatzaferis

On his part, Karatzaferis referred to a "shocking", as he called it, report on Islamic extremism in Greece, charging that the majority of Muslim migrants to the country are obviously not terrorists, "yet they (fanatical Islamists) use this growing community to penetrate into societies."

The LA.OS leader also charged that the most underground mosques in the greater Athens area are controlled by extremists, while citing major and contentious differences between major Muslim sects themselves.

The predominately Christian Orthodox country in the eastern Mediterranean has witnessed a surge in the number of Muslims arriving in Greece over the past decade or so, mostly from the Middle East and south Asia, leading the government to step up efforts to curb illegal immigration and to call Europe's attention to the problem.