The main officially recognized "minority" (μειονότητα, meionótita) is the Muslim minority (μουσουλμανική μειονότητα, mousoulmanikí meionótita) in Thrace, which numbered 97,604 people or 0.95% of the total population according to the 1991 census, and mainly consists of Turks, Pomaks and Roma. Other recognized minority groups are the Armenians numbering approximately 35,000, and the Jews (Sephardim and Romaniotes) numbering approximately 5,500.
The Greek constitution defines the Eastern Orthodox Church as the "prevailing religion" in Greece, and over 95% of the population claim membership in it. Any other religion not explicitly defined by law (e.g. unlike Islam and Judaism, which are explicitly recognized) may acquire the status of a "known religion", a status which allows the religion's adherents to worship freely, and to have constitutional recognition. After a court ruling, the criteria for acquiring the status of a "known religion", were defined as being, a "religion or a dogma whose doctrine is open and not secret, is taught publicly and its rites of worship are also open to the public, irrespective of whether its adherents have religious authorities; such a religion or dogma needs not to be recognized or approved by an act of the State or Church". This covers most religious minorities such as Roman Catholics, Evangelicals, Seventh-day Adventists, Methodists, and Jehovah's Witnesses. All known religions to be considered by the Greek state legal entities under private law must establish an association, or foundation, or charitable fund-raising committee pursuant to the Civil Code. The Roman Catholic Church refuses to be considered a legal person under private or public law and has requested recognition by its own canon law. In July 1999, following a parliamentary amendment, the legal entity status of all institutions of the Roman Catholic Church established before 1946 was reconfirmed. There is no formal mechanism that exists to gain recognition as a "known religion". There are also around two thousand Greeks who adhere to a reconstruction of the ancient Greek Religion. A place of worship has been recognized as such by court.
In the 2001 census, 443,550 holders of Albanian citizenship were residing in Greece, mostly economic migrants, who form the overwhelming majority of Albanian-speaking people in the country.
Albanian economic migrants are not to be confused with the Arvanites, a group who traditionally speak a form of Tosk Albanian in addition to Greek and self-identify as Greeks, having played a significant role in the Greek War of Independence and Greek culture in general.
The Chams, were an ethnic Albanian minority who lived in the area of Thesprotia, part of the Greek Epirus periphery. They crossed the border or were ousted to Albania by the Greek authorities after World War II because they collaborated with the Nazis. Their properties were either confiscated, destroyed or taken over by relatives who identified as Greeks. Recently, this issue has brought some controversy because some elderly representatives of the Chams and their descendants are claiming their properties back from the Greek state while Greek descendants of Cham atrocities are also claiming compensation from Albania.
In Greece, as well as in all other Balkan countries excluding Romania, the Aromanians are called Vlachs (Βλάχοι). There are numerous festivals celebrating Aromanian culture all over Greece. Their language, Aromanian, is in danger of extinction and mostly spoken by the elderly. There are, however, Aromanians in Greece who call for greater recognition of the Aromanian language, such as Sotiris Bletsas. It is hypothesized that these Vlachs originated from the Roman colonisation of the Balkans and are the descendants of Latinised native peoples and Roman legionaries who had settled in the Balkans. German researcher Thede Kahl claims to have also documented some cases of assimilation of the Aromanian population in regions which are now largely Greek-speaking. Most Aromanians themselves however hold different views; the Panhellenic Federation of Cultural Associations of Vlachs (Πανελλήνια Ομοσπονδία Πολιτιστικών Συλλόγων Βλάχων) has publicly stated that they do not want Aromanian recognized as a minority language nor do they want it inserted into the education system, and the same organization also protested when Thede Kahl discussed in a paper if they could be designated a "minority".
The history of Roma in Greece goes back over 600 years to the 15th century. The name Gypsy sometimes used for the Roma people was first given to them by the Greeks who supposed them to be Egyptian in origin. Due to their nomadic nature, they are not concentrated in a specific geographical area, but are dispersed all over the country. The majority of the Greek Roma are Orthodox Christians who speak the 'Vlachoura-Roma' language in addition to Greek. Most of the Roma who live in Western Thrace are Muslims and speak a dialect of the same language.
The Roma in Greece live scattered on the whole territory of the country, but a large concentration in the bigger cities, mainly in Athens and Thessalonica. Notable centres of Roma life in Greece are Agia Varvara which has a very successful Roma community and Ano Liosia where conditions are bad. Roma largely maintain their own customs and traditions. Although a large number of Roma has adopted a sedentary and urban way of living, there are still settlements in some areas. The nomads at the settlements often differentiate themselves from the rest of the population. They number 200,000 according to the Greek government. According to the National Commission for Human Rights that number is closer to 250,000 and according to the Greek Helsinki Watch group to 300,000.
As a result of neglect by the state, among other factors, the Roma communities in Greece face several problems including high instances of child labour and abuse, low school attendance, police discrimination and drug trafficking. The most serious issue is the housing problem since many Roma in Greece still live in tents, on properties they do not own, making them subject to eviction. In the past decade these issues have received wider attention and some state funding.
The Christian portion of Greece's Slavic-speaking minority are commonly referred to as Slavophones (from the Greek Σλαβόφωνοι Slavophōnoi - lit. Slavic-speakers) or Dopii, which means "locals" in Greek. The vast majority of them espouse a Greek national identity and are bilingual in Greek. They live mostly in the Periphery of Western Macedonia and adhere to the Greek Orthodox Church. The fact that the majority of these people self-identify as Greeks makes their numbers uncertain. Until and including the 1951 census the question of mother tongue was asked throughout Greece, so this gives a rough idea as to the size of this group, and later estimates are usually based on this figure.
The national identity of this community has frequently been loaded with political implications. The Politis-Kalfov Protocol signed on September 29, 1925 purported to recognize the Slav-speakers of Macedonia as Bulgarians, but this protocol was never ratified. A short lived agreement was signed August 1926, which recognized them as a Serbian minority.
In the 1951 census, 41,017 people claimed to speak the Slavic language. As stated earlier linguistic classification of the dialects spoken by these people oscillates from Bulgarian to Macedonian depending on abstand from the standard languages.
According to a report issued by the Greek Helsinki Monitor, there are about 10,000-30,000 ethnic Slav Macedonians living in Greece, but because of the absence of an official census it is impossible to determine the exact number. This group has received some attention in recent years due to claims from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia that these people form an ethnic Slav Macedonian minority in Greece. A political party promoting this line and claiming rights of what they describe as the "Macedonian minority in Greece" - the Rainbow (Виножито) - was founded around 1994-95; the party received 7,300 votes in 1994, and 2,955 votes in the 2004 elections for the European Parliament in the region of Macedonia. A pro-Bulgarian political party, known as Bulgarian Human Rights in Macedonia (Български Човешки Права в Македония) was established in June 2000, promoting the concept and rights of what they describe as the "Bulgarian minority in Greece". This party has not yet participated in elections. The official position of the Greek government is that there is no ethnic Macedonian or Bulgarian minority in Greece.
Under Greek law, the Muslim minority (including the Pomaks) has a right to education in its own language. In practice however, only Turkish is used . This is due to the Turkish self-identification of the Pomaks, and the fact that this trend was promoted until recently by the Greek authorities (who from 1968 until the 1980s even officially recognized the Pomaks as Turks ) in order to distance them from the Bulgarians . It has been reported though, that Pomak dialects may be used by teachers to explain some things orally to kindergarten and primary school pupils . Additionally, the minority languages can be used by local authorities and in courts, and under Greek law, interpreters will be provided. Nevertheless, most Pomaks will speak Turkish on such occasions .
Most Pomaks are fluent in their Pomak dialects (spoken amongst themselves), Turkish (their language of education, and the main language of the Muslim minority), Greek (the official language of the Greek state), and may know some Arabic (the language of the Qur'an) .
There is a Muslim minority living in Thrace, concentrated in the Rhodope and Xanthi Prefectures. From the 1991 census, the official position of the Greek government is that there are 98,000 Muslims in western Thrace, and that 50% are of Turkish ethnic origin, the rest being 35% Pomaks and 15% Roma.
Apart from Thrace, a small minority of Turks exists in the Dodecanese islands of Rhodes and Kos. They were not included in the 1923 population exchange as the Dodecanese were annexed from Italy in 1947 after World War II. After annexation of islands, their Muslim inhabitants, Greek and Turkish speakers, were granted Greek citizenship. Today, about 4,000 Muslims live in the Dodecanese islands of Rhodes and Kos and use Turkish in every day life. In Rhodes and Kos, the teaching of the Turkish language was de facto abolished in the early 1970s.
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The interaction between Greece and the Jews dates back to ancient times. Alexander the Great reached ancient Judea and was welcomed by the Jews. Following his death, war erupted between the Hellenized Jews and Greeks and the Jewish conservatives Maccabees that embittered relations between Greeks and Jews for centuries.
Until the Holocaust during World War II Greece had always had a significant, localized and active Jewish community with a long and rich cultural heritage. Jews practiced Judaism and over the centuries, developed a variety of Greek-Judaic dialects, such as the Yevanic language and a distinct Graecojewish culture. The Romaniotes are a Jewish population who have lived in the territory of today's Greece and neighboring areas with large Greek populations for more than 2,000 years. Their language is Greek and they derive their name from the old name for the Greek people, Rhomaioi. The Romaniotes are historically distinct from the Sephardim, who settled in Thessalonica after the 1492 expulsion of the Jews from Spain.
During the Holocaust 86% of the Greek Jews, especially those in the areas occupied by Nazi Germany and Bulgaria, were killed despite efforts by the Greek Orthodox Church hierarchy, the EAM resistance movement and individual Greeks (both Christian and Communist) to shelter Jews. These efforts were most successful in Zakynthos, where absolutely every local Jew was saved from the Holocaust.
WHY WE ARE HEADING TOWARD A WAR THAT NOBODY WANTS IMPORTANT NATIONAL INTERESTS DRAGGED US INTO SOMALIA AND NOW THEY ARE DRAGGING US INTO THE BALKANS
Jan 03, 1993; AWAR THAT breaks up the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, divides the European Community, brings fascists to power in Russia...