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GREECE

Islamic center opens; first since Ottomans

ATHENS — Immigrant groups last week opened the first formal Islamic prayer site to operate in Athens since rule by the Turks of the Ottoman Empire ended more than 170 years ago.

Plans by the Greek government to build a mosque for tens of thousands of Muslim immigrants living in the capital have stalled, so businessmen in Arab countries financed the downtown cultural center.

The mosque proposal has been unpopular, because of the association with centuries of rule by the Ottoman Empire, which ended in 1833 after a long rebellion. Some 97 percent of Greece’s native-born population of 11 million are baptized Orthodox Christian.

FRANCE

Chirac spurns scandal inquiry

PARIS — Former President Jacques Chirac has refused to be questioned in an investigation that includes charges of a smear campaign aimed at his successor, President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Mr. Chirac’s office — confirming that the former president declined to be questioned — refused to comment yesterday on a report that he had also been summoned for questioning about a second scandal that dates back to his years as mayor of Paris, from 1977 to 1995.

The former president faces a host of potential legal problems now that he no longer has presidential immunity, which expired a week ago. He handed over power to Mr. Sarkozy on May 16.

BRITAIN

Attorney general stepping down

LONDON — The top British government lawyer who gave Prime Minister Tony Blair the green light for the war in Iraq is to step down after six years, his office said yesterday.

Attorney General Peter Goldsmith faced a political storm over charges he changed his mind on the legality of the U.S.-led invasion under intense pressure from Mr. Blair and his aides.

AUSTRIA

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