Warnings follow Koran incident in Greece

One such space was set on fire last week by suspected far-right activists after one demonstration by Muslim protesters turned violent.

The governing New Democracy party is absorbed in electioneering ahead of Europe-wide parliamentary elections June 7 and has not addressed the issue publicly beyond a statement by the Deputy Interior Minister Christos Markogiannakis calling for calm.

The powerful Greek Orthodox Church in this devoutly religious country has also avoided becoming publicly involved.

“If this situation continues as it is now, we will probably address it,” said church spokesman Gabriel Papanikolaou, “but at the moment, it is a purely social issue, and we’re hoping it will remain at that.”

Nevertheless, Archbishop Ieronymos, the spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians in Greece, spoke out for freedom of religion in comments that also stressed that “any expression of violence in the name of any religion is absolutely to be condemned because it deeply transgresses the core of religion.”

The church has donated a large plot of land for the creation of a Muslim cemetery and supports the creation of Greece’s first mosque. It offers daily food handouts in central Athens, irrespective of creed.

Greece’s Muslim communities have largely condemned the rioting while also warning that the situation could spiral out of control.

“If you think that by pillaging the businesses and properties of our fellow citizens, we will react … you are terribly mistaken,” announced the Filotita group, a government-recognized body that represents Greece’s estimated indigenous Muslim minority of 100,000 people.

Iason Athanasiadis reports on Greece through a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting in Washington.

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
TWT Video Picks