chapter  16
Islamophobia in Greece
The ‘Muslim threat’ and the panic about Islam
WithAlexandros Sakellariou
Pages 14

During the so-called ‘refugee crisis’ that started in 2015, Greece being on the border between East and West, was the main European gate for thousands of – mainly Muslim – migrants who crossed the border with Turkey searching for a safe host society. According to some arguments these refugee waves are responsible for the rise of Islamophobia in Greece. However, Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred are not new phenomena in Greek society. Primarily connected with the Ottoman Empire and other military conflicts with Turkey in the past, the fear and hate for Islam and Muslims have been significant components of the national identity and of the public debates through the construction of the ‘religious other’, in that case the ‘Muslim enemy’. Drawing on this historical past this chapter will try to examine if and to what extent Islamophobia and hate for Muslims are present in Greek society, their routes and nature as well as any policy responses. The questions that this chapter will try to answer are the following: Which are the main channels through which Islamophobia and anti-Muslim attitudes are being re-produced? Which are the reasons behind Islamophobia and hate for Muslims? Has the ‘refugee crisis’ influenced the rise of anti-Muslim and Islamophobic attitudes? Through the qualitative analysis of the public discourse and practices of political parties, Orthodox Church leading figures, civil society agents, citizens’ organised groups and Muslim groups themselves this chapter will try to cast light on a taboo-issue, which is rarely discussed. Building on the concepts of moral panics and politics of fear this chapter will argue that Islam has been the centre of a religious panic that is reproduced through specific channels and has serious implications for religious freedom and equality within the Greek society.