The long-stalled construction of a state-funded mosque in Athens came a step closer on Thursday with the announcement that a consortium of Greek companies had won the tender to build it.

Athens has not had a formal mosque since Greece won independence from occupying Ottomans in 1832 and has been criticised by human rights groups such as Amnesty International for being one of the few European capitals without one.

But a government decision in May to revive the project during the country's deepest economic crisis had divided a country that spent nearly four decades under Turkish Ottoman rule, where hostility towards migrants is rising and the Orthodox Church is a powerful institution.

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