Greece’s top religious official claimed Islam is not a religion and called its believers people of “war.”
Rabat – Archbishop Ieronymos II, Greece’s top religious authority, has sparked controversy after claiming that Islam is not a religion but a political party.
In televised remarks on Saturday, January 16, the Archbishop also insulted Islam followers, describing them as people of “war.”
The insulting remarks stirred controversy and backlash among Muslims across the world.
Greek Muslims condemned the statements, saying they hoped for a “more peaceful language to be used instead of “an anti-Islamic discourse in such difficult times of pandemic.”
The Xanthi Turkish Union also condemned the Archbishop’s remarks.
“This insult to Islam and its beleivers is a typical Islamophobic atack and also hate speech. The fact that the insulting statements came from the number one name of the Church of Greece increases the gravity of the event,” the union said.
The statement also called for an immediate apology statement to all Muslims.
Turkey,meanwhile, slammed the remarks and called on Christians to challenge the “sick mentality.”
Anadolu Agency quoted the head of Turkey’s directorate of religious affairs, Ali Erbas, who said that such discourse seeks to “marginalize Muslims” and “feeds the racist perspective against them.”
Erbas emphasized that the Greek religious leader’s insulting comments can inspire hatred of Islam and lead to attacks on Muslims and their places of worship.
“Islam is a religious pe peace, and the Islamic civilization has always enabled people to live togehter for ccentureies, irrespective of their bbelifes, religion and culture,” he said.
A report from 2019 shows that Islamophobia is a growing challenge in “different realms across Greece.”
According to the report, Islamophobia is increasingly normalized in Greek politics, media, and among some “Orthodox Church figures.”
The report also emphasized the lack of law provisions that defend Greek Muslims from Islamophobic attacks.
“With the exception of a few state and NGO initiatives, almost no progress has been achieved in effectively fighting Islamophobia across Greece,” the report added.