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Lack of Muslim cemetery in Athens compounds grieving

LACK OF MUSLIM CEMETERY IN ATHENS COMPOUNDS GRIEVING

Migrant families fleeing war-torn countries in the Middle East to find shelter in Greece are suffering new wounds due to a problem in Athens: the lack of a cemetery for Muslims.

"I never had a chance to go to my baby's funeral. It was buried miles away," Muhammed Leggar, a 33-year-old Palestinian refugee who fled Aleppo, Syria, told Anadolu Agency this week after his unborn child died in Athens.

The body of Leggar's unborn child was laid to rest in the northeastern city of Komotini -- about 750 kilometers (460 miles) away from Athens -- after his wife, Semah, miscarried last week in her eighth month.

Greek authorities have been rejecting Muslims' request to build a cemetery for their own in the city, where nearly 300,000 Muslims live.

The migrants thus end up having to send their loved ones' remains to cities in Greece's northeast, which have a higher Muslim population as well as Muslim cemeteries, with the help of local communities or NGOs.

The expenses of the transferring and interring Leggar and Semah's child -- around €1,500 ($1,760) -- were covered by a local NGO in Athens, which declined to be named.

"My wife and I are very sad. Many dreams we had when we came here were destroyed," Leggar said disappointedly, adding that they do not know where their child was buried in Komotini.

Athens is also the only European capital that has no mosque, though it is expected that the first official mosque will be completed by the end of this year.

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