Greek Muslims

Greek-speaking Muslims, Muslims of Greek origins or Greek Muslims (Greek: Έλληνες Μουσουλμάνοι Ellines Musulmani, Turkish:Yunan Müslümanları) are Greeks of Islamic faith, and are found primarily in Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, although migrations to Lebanon and Syria have been reported[1]. The vast majority - if not all - Greek-speaking Muslims in Turkey today, espouse a Turkish national identity, as does the vast majority of the autochthonous Muslim minority in Greece (including the Greek-speaking Muslims), most of whom are bilingual in Turkish.

Most Greek-speaking Muslims in Greece left for Turkey during the 1920s' population exchanges under the Treaty of Lausanne (sometimes in return for Turkish-speaking Christians), with the exception of the Muslims in Thrace, who are officially recognized as a minority.

In Turkey

In Turkey, where most Greeks-speaking Muslims live, there are various groups of Greek-speaking Muslims, some autochthonous, some from parts of present day Greece, who migrated to Turkey under the population exchanges.

Greek-speaking Muslims of Pontus

Muslims of Pontic Greek origins, speakers of the Pontic language (named Ρωμαίικα Roméika, not Ποντιακά Pontiaká as it is in Greece), which is spoken by some people in Tonya, Maçka, Sürmene, Çaykara, and Dernekpazarı districts of Trabzon. Due to mass migration from the region, high linguistic assimilation to Turkish, and the fact that the language has no official status, the total number of the speakers may be guessed; roughly 50,000 - 75,000 people. Ömer Asan estimated the number of people of Pontian Greek descent in Turkey at about 300,000 in 1996. The community is usually considered deeply religious Sunni Muslims of Hanafi madhhab. Sufi orders such as Qadiri and Naqshbandi have a great impact.

Cretan Muslims

Cretan Turks cover Muslims who arrived in Turkey after or slightly before the start of the Greek rule in Crete in 1908 and especially in the framework of the 1923 agreement for the Exchange of Greek and Turkish Populations and have settled on the coastline stretching from the Çanakkale to İskenderun. Today, only elderly women may be found to be fluent in Greek and only estimates can be made regarding their number. They often name the language as Cretan (Kritika (Κρητικά) or Giritçe) instead of Greek. Most Cretan Turks are Sunni (Hanafi) with a highly influential Bektashi minority that helped shape the folk Islam and religious tolerance of the entire community.

Epirote Muslims

Muslims from the region of Epirus, known collectively as Yanyalılar (Yanyalı in singular, meaning "person from Ioannina") in Turkish and Τουρκογιαννιώτες Turkoyanyótes in Greek (Τουρκογιαννιώτης Turkoyanyótis in singular, meaning "Turk from Ioannina"), who had arrived in two waves of migration in 1912 and after 1923 were known to be Greek-speaking, much like the Cretans, as a result of symbiosis with the Greek culture. Today, the community is fully integrated inside Turkey's culture.

Cypriot Muslims

Some communities among Turkish Cypriot immigrants who settled in Turkey following end of the Ottoman rule in the island (1878) were speaking Cypriot Greek. The last of such groups was reported to arrive at Antalya in 1936. These communities are thought to have abandoned Greek in the course of integration.


According to the Columbia Encyclopedia, Greek is spoken by approximately, 600,000 people in Turkey [1], out of whom the an estimated 5,000 are of the surviving Greek Orthodox community of Turkey [2]. Greek sources place the number of Greek-speaking Muslims in Pontus at 300,000 [3]. It is sometimes claimed in Greece (as an urban legend) that the some of the Pontus Greek Muslims are in fact Crypto-Christians (e.g. [2]).


  1. ^ Barbour, S., Language and Nationalism in Europe, Oxford University Press, 2000, ISBN 0198236719
  2. ^ According to figures presented by Prof. Vyron Kotzamanis to a conference of unions and federations representing the ethnic Greeks of Istanbul. "Ethnic Greeks of Istanbul convene", Athens News Agency, 2 July 2006.
  3. ^ "Εθνική συνείδηση και μειονότητες στην Τουρκία" (National consiousness and minorities in Turkey), by Yorgos Stamikos, 26th June 2006


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