Finding a Place to Pray in the Land of Yogurt

The Acropolis, Athens, Greece Photo: Colin Christopher

While traveling around the Balkans a few year back, it was crystal clear to me that the people of the region have a long memory of their history, and that racism and hatred are far from notions of the past. The Balkans have been the stage for a host of conflicts, both recent and ancient, and the latest developments in Athens highlight age-old tensions related to identity. Amid “fear of an uprising from Muslims,” the Greek Parliament passed an environmental bill with an amendment approving the construction of a large Athens mosque. Nearly two-thirds of Parliament supported the bill. The mosque would serve as a central point of Islamic worship for Athens’s approximately 200,000 Muslim residents. Anti-Muslim activists have accused the Greek Government of “giving in,” and often point to the violent clashes of 2010 between Muslims and other groups related to a Greek law enforcement official stepping on a Qur’an.

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