Thessaloniki, Greece: For the First Time Public Prayer for Eid al-Adha

More than 200 Bangladeshi Muslim immigrants living in Thessaloniki offered Eid al-Adha prayers on November 6, 2011, in a public hall in the grounds of the Thessaloniki International Fair, granted immediately by the Municipality, in cooperation with Helexpo, upon the request of the Bangladeshi community on November 1.

“We are very satisfied because for the first time such a public space was granted to us. In Thessaloniki Muslim communities pray either in ware houses or in their offices” said Mohammad Dalower Hossain Prodhan, 36 years old, scientific officer at the Bangladeshi Agricultural Research Institute and Ph.D. student at the Agricultural Faculty of the Thessaloniki Aristotle University, who yesterday served as imam.

For the first time in Thessaloniki local authorities granted a public hall to Muslims in order to pray. Representatives of the newly established Thessaloniki Municipality Migrants Integration Council and Symβiosis NGO were present during the celebration in the 3,500 sq.m. pavilion. Other Muslim communities also held prayers in the city, and wishes were expressed by all that communities practicing Islam will jointly hold prayers in public places of worship in the coming period.

In Thessaloniki, there are five informal worship places forEID-06112011288 Muslims, while currently there are no official mosques, despite the growing number of Muslims in the second largest city in Greece. The mayor of Thessaloniki announced in March 2011 for the first time that “procedures have been launched to allow Muslims to exercise their religious duties and to create a cemetery”. Migration has significantly changed Greece as more than ten percent of the population today is foreign-born, coming from various cultures and backgrounds. At the same time, Thessaloniki’s population, as a consequence of the city’s turbulent history, for centuries formed a fascinating mosaic of religions.

Muslims worldwide celebrate Eid al-Adha or the Feast of the Sacrifice, marking the end of the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and commemorating Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail on God’s command.