A Citizen’s Guide to Greece 2015


May 21, 2013

Greece 2012 International Religious Freedom Report

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Written by: Politis

Excerpts from the annual international religious freedom report that was published on Monday by the US State Department.

Executive Summary

The constitution and other laws and policies protect religious freedom with some restrictions. In practice the government generally respected religious freedom, although it imposed restrictions affecting members of non-Greek Orthodox religious groups. The government granted privileges and legal prerogatives to the Orthodox Church that it did not afford other religious groups, such as preferential taxation and an institutionalized link to the government. Members of Golden Dawn, a political party openly espousing anti-Semitism and racism and linked to violent attacks against individuals perceived to be immigrants , were elected to parliament. Government leaders publicly condemned some anti-Semitic and Racist incidents, but observers called on the authorities to do more to counter hate speech and the violent actions of Golden Dawn members. Planning continued for a government-funded mosque in Athens. The trend in the government’s respect for religious freedom did not change significantly during the year.

There were reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice. The Greek Orthodox Church exercised significant social, political, and economic influence. Some non-Orthodox citizens complained of being treated with suspicion or being told they were not truly Greek when they revealed their religious affiliations to other Greek citizens. Members of non-Orthodox religious groups reported incidents of societal discrimination. Members of the Muslim minority in Thrace were underrepresented in public sector employment, and no Muslim military personnel advanced to officer ranks. There were reports of harassment and increasingly violent physical attacks against individuals perceived to be immigrants and refugees, many of whom were Muslim. Expressions of anti-Semitism increased after voters elected members of Golden Dawn to parliament.

The U.S. ambassador and the consul general in Thessaloniki met with government and religious leaders on a regular basis to promote religious tolerance, encourage interfaith dialogue, and investigate reports of discrimination. Embassy officials also hosted iftars attended by a broad range of government and religious leaders, and attended Holocaust memorial events.



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