Muslims in Greece

The Constitution of Greece guarantees religious freedom for every person living in Greece. Therefore the Greek Muslim community has its own numerous mosques. There are also two state-run Islamic centres for the Muslim minority. The Muslim Mufti also has some judicial powers and is appointed by the government based on the recommendations of a committee of local Muslim scholars, religious authorities, and community leaders. During the last decades, as part of a Europe-wide trend of populations moving from rural areas to urban areas, many Greek Muslims, along with other Greek citizens, have left their birthplaces to move to bigger cities, most notably Athens and Istanbul. In the past, a considerable number of them were deprived of their citizenship after leaving Greece (especially for Turkey) and their properties were subsequently confiscated by the state under Article 19 of the Citizenship Law, which was repealed non-retroactively in June 1998.

The fact that the Muslim minority in Greece remains while the Greeks from Istanbul and Gokceada and Bozcaada (Imvros and Tenedos) have over the years been forced by the Turkish government to move to Greece has been noted by human rights groups and also riled nationalistic sentiment in some corners of Greek society. Similar sentiments prevail in respective parts of Turkish society about the current situation of the Greek Muslims, who are usually considered ethnic Turkish, in western Thrace

Autochtonous Muslims in Greece

The indigenous Muslim population in Greece is not homogenous; it consists of different ethnic, linguistic and social backgrounds which often overlap. Officially and under the terms of the Treaty of Lausanne, the Greek government only recognises the existence of a Greek Muslim minority.

The Muslim faith is the creed of several autochtonous ethnic groups living in the present territory of Greece, namely the Pomaks, ethnic Turks, the Roma and to a lesser extent the Athinganoi and the Gagauzes. There were also Greeks who embraced the Muslim faith, usually under duress – mainly in the 17th and 18th centuries. The country's Muslim popuplation decreased significanly as a result of the 1923 population exchange agreement between Greece and the new Turkish Republic, which also resulted in 1.22 million Greeks being uprooted from Asia Minor.

Most autochtonous Greek Muslims consider themselves ethnic Turks. Relics of the Ottoman Empire, this community resides mainly in Western Thrace, where they were allowed to remain under the terms of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne. In the town of Komotini, it makes up almost 40 percent of the total population. There is also a vibrant Turkish community in the town of Xanthi where it makes up 23 percent of the population. There also also Muslim and Turkish Muslim communities residing in some of the Dodecanese islands which, as part of Italy between 1912 and 1947, were not subjected to the exchange of the population between Turkey and Greece in 1923. The community is strongest on the island of Kos, and in particular the village of Platanos.

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.

The religion of the Athinganoi combines the Muslim faith with elements of paganism. These too live in Thrace. The Athinganoi have been sometimes described as a branch of the Roma.

The village of Ehinos in Xanthi, inhabited exclusively by Greek Muslim Pomaks. The minarets of several active mosques are visable.

Immigrant Muslims in Greece

The first immigrants of Islamic faith arrived in the the early 1970s from the Middle East, mostly from Palestine, 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, fifty percent of whom come from Albania. The remainder are from various countries of the Middle East, as well as from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.

The immigrant Muslim community numbers around 150,000 people.

Retrieved from ""
All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License