Back to blog

Where Islam flourishes despite being half-underground

See blog

Readers' comments

The Economist welcomes your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful of other readers. Review our comments policy.


Greece is notably intolerant toward any religion other than Greek Orthodoxy, including most other Christian faiths. Mormon missionaries and evangelical Protestant pastors routinely report police harassment up to and including arrest and jail on spurious charges.

Frankly I'm surprised that the EU ever allowed Greece into the organization on human rights grounds.


"why? I’m a Greek subject, an alumnus of Greek schools, I have no other country...but when I pray I have to go a basement, while my neighbour can go to a church.”

The obvious answer is because the religion (you follow) has persecuted Greece for centuries.

And is therefore (rightly or wrongly) viewed as a destructive and unwelcome religion.
I hope this answers your question


“...when I pray I have to go a basement, while my neighbour can go to a church.” The question should be "why am I unable to accept the culture of the country where I was born, and keep on clinging onto premodern tribal ideology of my forebears"


“...when I pray I have to go a basement, while my neighbour can go to a church.” Why? Precentury religiosity is the bane of 12 st century polity; nothing more keeps inequality so ingrained within Greek culture. As old as it is, Greek democracy has yet to inspire the evolution that will make the love of god work through people in agreement with principles to effect safety and happiness for all. Turn the page! The next chapter is not a separation of religious sentiments and the state, but spiritual recourse to instill integrity in the state. Use the spiritual veracity of your faith to keep yourself principled. Montesquieu said that when the people are principled, so will the government be.


"The strange social reality in Greece" that Islam flourishes there is not so strange at all. Islam flourishes and grows in just about every European country there is. Now what would be strange and definitely worth an article would be if Christianity was seen to be 'flourishing' in any of the Muslim countries.
Yet one more rather insipid and banal article from TE .


Why should a Mosque or ANY House of Worship be built with State Funds. Every time Government and Religion converge the result is Social Conflict and usually Bloodshed. Nowhere has this been truer than in Greece. The Socialist Government has no stake in religious affairs. A Government that builds your House of Worship, is a Government depending on Elections or Worse Political Coups that shall take it AWAY! Look at the Suppression or confiscation of Churches in virtually EVERY Muslim Majority Country. All these well heeled Sportsmen and Businessmen can build their OWN Mosque.

MohammedHakkou in reply to john4law

I'm sure that Muslim need only authorization to build mosque , fund can be collected from Muslim community ,you can see same example in other European country ( Germany , France..) , big mosque build from Muslims donation

latkanme in reply to MohammedHakkou

No more legal "authorization" should be required under International Human Rights Standards to build a House of Worship than any other structure. I am sure you are aware how Muslim Governments routinely build Sumptuous Mosques with State Funds and THEN refuse permission or just ignore applications to renovate much less build Churches. Egypt and Turkey are particularly abusive of Non-Muslim Houses of Worship and apparently expect them to crumble to dust along with their Congregations thereby solving the "Non-Muslim Minority Question". Government MUST be barred from Religious Matters or Mass Bloodshed inevitably results!

jouris in reply to john4law

If you require every religion to fund its own houses of worship, no problem. But given that some religions get theirs subsidized, there's no real basis for complaining if another religion gets the same treatment.


Greece should should provide EU passports to these people so that they can go to other EU countries they prefer. Holding them in Greece is no solution.


I am not surprised that there are problems for building mosques in Greece taking into account its long occupation by the Ottoman empire. Maybe the situation will change slowly but I doubt that Greek population will ever think that Islam is welcome in Greece. I guess that there will be some mosques built but it will provoke a fierce resistance from right wing groups.

MohammedHakkou in reply to Kremilek2

You have right , Muslim can construct their own mosque without support from any public establishment ,but difficult come from the Greek community attached to the orthodox church ,the latter having heavy weight to influence politician decision and do obstacle to spreads Islam in country
Muslims need more time and patience to mitigates resistance from extremist group ,with good comportment and respect law and other community in the country ,and slowly big mosque icnhallh take place in Athene

Swiss Reader in reply to Kremilek2

Greece was born in struggle against the Ottoman empire, and after several wars there is still considerable animosity against Turkey. On the other hand, Greek relations to the Arab world have been traditionally very good. Especially left-wing governments were much given to "anti-imperialist" rhetoric, pronouncing their "solidarity" with some rather dubious Arab leaders.

Kremilek2 in reply to MohammedHakkou

I guess that you underestimate the zeal of Orthodox Christians when facing the Muslim threat. It will be very tricky for Muslims to spread their religion in Greece. If Greek economic problems continue the situation can get nasty.

Kremilek2 in reply to Swiss Reader

Left-wingers are usually atheists and right-winger usually Christians in Greece. So I don't see why these groups should support construction of mosques in Athens. I guess that local population is not very much interested in geopolitics.