The first prayer ceremony in 90 years was held in the Yeni Mosque, also known as the Hamidiye Mosque, in Thessaloniki on Saturday.
The prayer ceremony held by nearly 50 Muslim theological students was initiated by Thessaloniki Mayor Yiannis Boutaris, whose decision to grant permission for such a ceremony has pleased leading public figures in Western Thrace as well as Turkish officials.
Commenting on the development, Turkey's Ambassador to Ankara Kerim Uras referred to the debate surrounding the building of a mosque in Athens by expressing his hopes that the Greek capital will also be a place Muslims can pray in. "Athens is next," said Uras.
Thessaloniki Consul General Tuğrul Biltekin called the event "a historical development" and said, "This is the first time Muslims have prayed in a mosque in our region ever since the population exchange."
As part of the recent more recent developments involving the religious and prayer aspects of Turkish-Greek relations, the reopening of the Sumela Monastery in Trabzon after 80 years of closure was widely welcomed by the Orthodox world.
The Hamidiye Mosque was commissioned by Müşir Mehmet Hayri Paşa during the Ottoman Empire era years of 1901-1902. Built during the reign of Sultan Abdul Hamid II, the Yeni Mosque is not only the last mosque ever to be built in Thessaloniki, but it is also the first mosque built by Sabbathaians.
This is a translation of an article originally written by Stelyo Berberakis.
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