The Archbishop of Athens and all Greece, Ieronymos II, separated spirituality from Islam, describing it as a mere political ideology that intends to wage war. He went on to say that “Islam is not a religion but a political movement, and its followers are people of war.”
The primate of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Greece also called Muslims a people of “expansion”.
“These are people who spread, this is a hallmark of Islam,” he said in a televised presentation on January 15, 2021. The Archbishop said the words in context and in reference to the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, also known as Mehmed the Conqueror. The Sultan took control of Constantinople in 1453, ending the Byzantine Empire which in my opinion is a direct result of the Great Schism of July 16, 1054. This divided the main faction of Christianity into two divisions, Roman Catholic and Orthodox eastern. The Archbishop says âafter the fall of Constantinople, the Sultan listened to his Greek advisers and appointed Gennadius II as Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople from 1454 to 1464. Patriarch Gennadios II was an opponent of the Pope. The sultan’s appointment was motivated by the fact that there would never be an alliance established with the Roman Catholics against the Ottomans under Gennadius II. Simply, we were divided and we were won over.
READ MORE: Greece, Turkey resume talks on January 25
Archbishop Ieronymos II’s remarks preceded Greece and Turkey’s decision to resume talks. These negotiations aim to reduce the existing tension between the countries. Meetings are scheduled to resume on Monday, January 25, 2021. The Archbishop’s conversation took place on the occasion of the bicentenary celebrations of the Greek uprising against the Ottoman Empire in 1821.
A senior official in the Orthodox community in Turkey who declined to be identified called the statement unfortunate when addressing TRT World. The older member went on to say, “The timing for Ieronymos’ statement is unfortunate.”
He also said that as a non-Muslim living in Turkey, he questioned the veracity of the comment.
âThe violence has nothing to do with any religion, it happened just as relations between Turkey and Greece were improving. It’s so sad, I completely disagree with what has been said, “he added.
Turkey’s religious affairs directorate spokesman Ali Erbas also commented on the archbishop’s statement on Sunday. He called on Christians to oppose this kind of âsick mentalityâ.
“The most important duty of the clergy, who must strive for peace and tranquility, should be to contribute to the culture of coexistence,” he said in a statement.
âThe Christian world must oppose this sick mentality. This kind of discourse aimed at marginalizing Muslims fuels the racist perspective against them and leads to attacks on their lives and places of worship, âhe added.
In a statement shared on the social media platform Twitter, Greek Muslims in Western Thrace through the Minority Advisory Council said: âWe hope that more peaceful language will be used instead of anti-anti rhetoric. Islamic in these difficult times of pandemic. “
Note that the legal status of the Muslim minority in Greece is based on the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923, which sets the legal framework for the rights and obligations of Greece towards its Muslim minority and of Turkey towards its non-Muslim minority. At the heart of the debate on the Lausanne Treaty is the so-called reciprocity clause, as interpreted and widely used by Greece and Turkey. Reciprocity has been raised by Greece and Turkey mainly on issues relating to religious rights, education and religious foundations.
Finally, the Greek Muslim community was recognized in 1913 by Article 13 of Protocol No. 3 to the Peace Treaty between Greece and Turkey concluded in Athens. Article 11 of the Treaty of Athens grants rights to Muslims, including equality before the law, and the right to religious freedom and religious autonomy.