The Fethiye Mosque in Athens re-opens: Erdogan’s dream comes true with Greek blessings!

By Panagiotis Karampelas*

The Fethiye Mosque (Gr.: Φετιχιέ τζαμί) is located in Athens right under the Acropolis. After being used a storage for local ancient artifacts and fragments, it was decided by the Greek Ministry of Culture back in 2010 that it should be renovated and to be used for various cultural activities and of course be open to visitors.

But is it here that this little story end?

No. This is where it begins… And the reason for this is that the renovation of the Mosque was a long standing demand of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Of course, what he wanted was for it to actually be used again as a Mosque officially.

But anyone, with good intentions, who reads this could very well ask:
“What’s so special about this specific Mosque that turned into a bilateral issue between Greece and Turkey?”

The answer lies at the very beginning of the Mosque story itself.

The Mosque was built by the orders of the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed the Second the Conqueror to give thanks to Allah for helping him conquer Constantinople in 1453. The Mosque officially opened when the Sultan visited the (conquered, of course…) Athens.

One doesn’t have to be an avid reader of strategy or history to understand the connotations as well as the semiology behind this specific Mosque. In the hands of a megalomaniac Sultan-wannabe this could be as good as a weapon!

This is what Erdogan had in mind when he insisted to various Greek governments to open the Mosque. Such a building, with the history it carries, reopening again under the Greek and European symbol of democracy, the Parthenon, would be a victory by itself.

And this is exactly what we gave him: His Victory!

Of course, one could argue and say, that it will not be used as a Mosque, but a place for cultural events and as a place for tourists to visit.

However, it would be really naïve for anyone not to see how this can, and eventually will change. The first Turkish or Muslim tourist that will start praying in there is going to turn it practically into a Mosque. When Muslim tourists will start protesting against western and Greek visitors for not taking off their shows as it is accustomed by the Muslims, that is when it will turn into a Mosque. Because whoever tries to stop them will give the perfect propaganda “ammunition” to Turkey to say to the world: “See what the bad Greeks are doing? Is this your ‘democracy’ Europe?”

This is what is called a win-win situation!

Well done Mr. Erdogan. Well played…


* Panagiotis Karampelas is a Strategic & Political analyst.

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