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Islam in Greece

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Islam in Greece is represented by two distinct communities; Muslims that have lived in Greece since the times of the Ottoman Empire (primarily in East Macedonia and Thrace) and Muslim immigrants that began arriving in the last quarter of the 20th century, mainly in Athens and Thessaloniki.

Conversion to Christianity

There are two groups who have converted in large numbers from Islam to Christianity. The first group are the Turks of the Dodecanese. Being seen as a remnant of the former Ottoman Empire and as culturally similar to an alien country (Turkey), lots of Turks do not show interest in the Islamic faith in order not to face discrimination of the Greek state.[1]

The second case are the Albanian immigrants who have shown a preference for rapid assimilateion into Greek culture. They form the largest migrant group in Greece, and the majority do not want to be identified as Albanian. Many Albanian newcomers change their Albanian name to Greek ones and their religion from Islam to Orthodoxy:[2][3] Even before emigration, many Muslim people in southern Albania presented themselves as Greeks and adopted Greek names instead of Albanian Muslim ones in order to avoid discrimination before immigrating. As such, they seek to increase their chances to get a Greek visa and work in Greece.[4][5][3] After migrating to Greece, they get baptized and change their Muslim or Albanian names in their passports to Greek ones.[3]

Muslims in Greece

Young Greeks at the Mosque (Jean-Léon Gérôme, oil on canvas,  1865); this oil painting portrays Greek Muslims at prayer in a mosque).
Young Greeks at the Mosque (Jean-Léon Gérôme, oil on canvas, 1865); this oil painting portrays Greek Muslims at prayer in a mosque).

The Muslim population in Greece is not homogeneous, since it consists of different ethnic, linguistic and social backgrounds which often overlap. The Muslim faith is the creed of several ethnic groups living in the present territory of Greece, namely the Pomaks, ethnic Turks, certain Romani groups, and Greek Muslims particularly of Crete, Epirus, and western Greek Macedonia who converted mainly in the 17th and 18th centuries. The country's Muslim population decreased significantly as a result of the 1923 population exchange agreement between Greece and the new Turkish Republic, which also uprooted approximately 1.5 million Greeks from Asia Minor. Many of the Muslims of Northern Greece were actually ethnic Greek Muslims from Epirus and Greek Macedonia, whereas the Muslims of Pomak and ethnic Turkish origin (the Western Thrace Turks) from Western Thrace were exempt from the terms of the population exchange. Successive Greek governments and officials consider the Turkish-speaking Muslims of Western Thrace as part of the Greek Muslim minority and not as a separate Turkish minority. This policy is aimed to give the impression that the Muslims of the region are the descendants of Ottoman-era ethnic Greek converts to Islam like the Vallahades of pre-1923 Greek Macedonia and so thereby avoid a possible future situation in which Western Thrace is ceded to Turkey on the basis of the ethnic origin of its Muslim inhabitants.[6]

The term Muslim minority (Μουσουλμανική μειονότητα Musulmanikí mionótita) refers to an Islamic religious, linguistic and ethnic minority in western Thrace, which is part of the Greek administrative region of East Macedonia and Thrace. In 1923, under the terms of the Treaty of Lausanne, the Greek Muslims of Epirus, Greek Macedonia, and elsewhere in mainly Northern Greece were required to immigrate to Turkey; whereas, the Christians living in Turkey were required to immigrate to Greece in an "Exchange of Populations". The Muslims of western Thrace and the Christians of Istanbul and the islands of Gökçeada and Bozcaada (Imvros and Tenedos) were the only populations not exchanged. For more information on this community, see Muslim minority of Greece.

There is also a small Muslim community in some of the Dodecanese islands (Turks of the Dodecanese) which, as part of the Italian Dodecanese of the Kingdom of Italy between 1911 and 1947, were not subjected to the exchange of the population between Turkey and Greece in 1923. They number about 3,000, some of whom espouse a Turkish identity and speak Turkish, while others are the Greek-speaking descendants of Cretan Muslims. The community is strongest in the city of Rhodes and on the island of Kos (in particular the village of Platanos).[7]

The Pomaks are mainly located in compact villages in Western Thrace's Rhodope Mountains. While the Greek Roma community is predominantly Greek Orthodox, the Roma in Thrace are mainly Muslim.

Estimates of the recognized Muslim minority, which is mostly located in Thrace, range from 98,000 to 140,000 (between 0.9% and 1.2%), while the illegal immigrant Muslim community numbers between 200,000 and 500,000.[citation needed], predominantly in the area of Asea[8] Albanian immigrants to Greece are usually associated with the Muslim faith, although most are secular in orientation.[9]

Immigrant Muslims in Greece

Muslims pray at a Mosque in Thrace.
Muslims pray at a Mosque in Thrace.

The first immigrants of Islamic faith, mostly Egyptian, arrived in the early 1950s from Egypt, and are concentrated in the country's two main urban centres, Athens and Thessaloniki. Since 1990, there has been an increase in the numbers of immigrant Muslims from various countries of the Middle East, North Africa, as well as from Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Somalia and Muslim Southeast Asia. However, the bulk of the immigrant Muslim community has come from the Balkans, specifically from Albania and Albanian communities in North Macedonia, and other former Yugoslav republics. Since the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe in the early 1990s, Albanian workers started immigrating to Greece, taking low wage jobs in search of economic opportunity, and bringing over their families to settle in cities like Athens and Thessaloniki.

The majority of the immigrant Muslim community resides in Athens. In recognition of their religious rights, the Greek government approved the building of a mosque in July 2006. In addition, the Greek Orthodox Church has donated 300,000 square feet (28,000 m2), worth an estimated $20 million, in west Athens for the purpose of a Muslim cemetery.[9][10] Greece’s government gave the green light to begin construction in 2016, but both commitments continued to remain dead letters by 2017. However, Kostas Gavroglou – Greece’s education and religious minister from 2016 to July 2019 – says the country’s first state-sponsored mosque is likely to begin operations in September 2019.[11] Still, the country faces strong opposition from some of its citizens, who consider mosques to be a means of spreading Islam in Europe. Despite the fact that the construction and operation of this Athenian mosque is within legal regulations, the strong ideological spread of the Greeks will likely perpetuate the controversy.[12] If the mosque is built, it will end an almost two-century wait.[13] As the population of Muslims increase with the migrant crisis, some consider this mosque to be the first of many built in Greece’s largest metropolis.

Moreover, the ban on opening mosques in Greece is causing trouble for the approximately 7,000 ethnic Turks residing in the country’s second largest city, Thessaloniki. For prayers that are required to be performed in congregation, the Thessaloniki Muslim community meets inside apartments, basements, and garages for worship.[14] In addition, there are very few Muslim cemeteries – forcing some to travel hundreds of miles to bury their dead.[15]

In 2010, an unofficial mosque on the island of Crete was targeted in the night without any casualties, likely as a result of anti-Muslim sentiments in the Greek far right,[16] but no suspects had been identified.[17]There has been anti-Muslim rhetoric from certain right-wing circles, including the Golden Dawn party.[18][19][20] Survey published in 2019 by the Pew Research Center found that 37% of Greeks had a favorable view of Muslims, whereas 57% had an unfavourable view.[21] These statistics are likely to change dramatically, as the European migrant Crisis, of Refugee crisis, continues to leverage non-EU-born people in traditionally EU-exclusive locations.[22]



See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Armand Feka (2013-07-16). "Griechenlands verborgene Albaner". Wiener Zeitung. Retrieved 2016-03-02. Er lächelt und antwortet in einwandfreiem Griechisch: ‚Ich bin eigentlich auch ein Albaner.‘
  3. ^ a b c Kretsi, Georgina (2005). "Shkëlzen ou Giannis? Changement de prénom et stratégies identitaires, entre culture d'origine et migration [Shkëlzen or Giannis? Change of Name and Identity strategies, between Culture of Origin and Migration]". Balkanologie. 1 (2). para.1-63
  4. ^ Lars Brügger, Karl Kaser, Robert Pichler, Stephanie Schwander-Sievers (2002). Umstrittene Identitäten. Grenzüberschreitungen zuhause und in der Fremde. Die weite Welt und das Dorf. Albanische Emigration am Ende des 20. Jahrhunderts = Zur Kunde Südosteuropas: Albanologische Studien. Vienna: Böhlau-Verlag. p. Bd. 3. ISBN 3-205-99413-2.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ Kitsaki, Georgia (2011). "Ethnic groups:Identities and relationships in the Greek-Albanian border". In Nitsiakos, Vassilis (ed.). Balkan border crossings: Second annual of the Konitsa Summer School. Lit Verlag. p. 151. ISBN 978-3-643-80092-3. "The recent socio-political changes in Albania have brought on this change. Work in Greece is of vital importance, so in order to acquire entry or a work permit in Greece, you have to declare being a member of the Greek Minority or prove your ‘Greek origin’, which has acquired tremendous social and economic value in Albania. Different identity cards were provided by the Greek state to ‘Greeks by descent’ (homogeneis), i.e. to Albanian citizens claiming Greek origin. A great number of Vlachs in the south-east of Albania have also claimed Greek homogeneis identity based on their pro-Greek social networks and identity idioms of the past. There have even been cases of Albanian Muslims who made similar claims by falsifying their Albanian documents. This is the potential effect of Greek policy, since people in Albania believe that that there is discrimination by the Greek state against Muslims or ‘non-Greeks’ in favour of ‘Christians’ or those of ‘Greek origin’."
  6. ^ See Hugh Poulton, 'The Balkans: minorities and states in conflict', Minority Rights Publications, 1991
  7. ^ "Lecturer of Turkish language in Rhodes breaks old stereotypes".
  8. ^ Ta Nea 23 April 2010
  9. ^ a b "Greece".
  10. ^ "Failure to settle matter has rankled sensibilities here and abroad - Kathimerini".
  11. ^ "Greece: Athens mosque likely to open by September, official says". Retrieved 2019-11-19.
  12. ^ Tsiachris, Christos. "Is there a legal basis for banning or restricting mosques in Greece and Switzerland?". UNILU/CCCLR Working Paper Series WP 01/14.
  13. ^ Dilouambaka, Ethel. "Is Athens Getting Its First Mosque After A 180-Year Ban?". Culture Trip. Retrieved 2019-11-19.
  14. ^ "Thessaloniki's Turks have no place to worship or bury their dead". Retrieved 2019-11-19.
  15. ^ Dilouambaka, Ethel. "Is Athens Getting Its First Mosque After A 180-Year Ban?". Culture Trip. Retrieved 2019-11-19.
  16. ^ ""Φωτιά στα τζαμιά" διά χειρός Χρυσής Αυγής". 24 June 2016.
  17. ^ Article: "Attentat contre une mosquée en Grèce" Check |url= value (help) (in French). Le Figaro. 2010-04-02.
  18. ^ "Rising tide of Islamophobia engulfs Athens". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  19. ^ "Greeks Shout Obscenities, Egg Muslims as they celebrate Eid".
  20. ^ Kitsantonis, Niki (1 December 2010). "Attacks on Immigrants on the Rise in Greece" – via
  21. ^ "European Public Opinion Three Decades After the Fall of Communism — 6. Minority groups". Pew Research Center. 14 October 2019.
  22. ^ "Europe migrant crisis - BBC News". 2016-10-19. Retrieved 2019-11-19.

Further reading

  • Antoniou, Dimitris A. (July 2003). "Muslim Immigrants in Greece: Religious Organization and Local Responses". Immigrants and Minorities. 22 (2–3): 155–174. doi:10.1080/0261928042000244808.
  • D. Christopoulos and M. Pavlou (eds). "The Greece of migration." Kritiki Centre for the Research of Minority Groups (KEMO), Athens, pp. 267–302.[1]
  • K. Tsitselikis. “Religious freedom of immigrants: The case of the Muslims”, (in Greek), 2004.
  • K. Tsitselikis. "The legal status of Islam in Greece," 44/3 Die Welt des Islams, pp. 402–431, 2004.
  • Speed, Madeleine (1 February 2019). "The battle to build a mosque in Athens". Financial Times. Retrieved 1 February 2019.

External links

This page was last edited on 6 February 2020, at 12:02
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