Last Updated on August 17, 2021
There are two different groups of Muslims in Greece, the group that inhabited Greece since the time of the Ottoman Empire (mainly in eastern Macedonia and Thrace) and the group of Muslim immigrants who began arriving in the last quarter of the 20th century, especially to Athens and Thessaloniki.
Total population: 10.75 million
Muslim population (2016): 620,000
The Muslim population of Western Thrace is protected by an agreement signed by Greece and the Republic of Turkey in 1923. The Muslims of Greece are the only community officially recognized by the state. In addition to their constitutional rights, the right to citizenship and their basic rights are protected under the bilateral and international agreements that Greece has signed and ratified.
Muslims in Greece come from different, often overlapping ethnic, linguistic and social backgrounds. In the 1950s, a new group of immigrants, most of them from Egypt, settled in the two main urban centers of the country, Athens and Thessaloniki. Since the 1990s, the number of Muslim immigrants from different countries from the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Somalia and East Asian Muslim countries has increased, but most
Muslim immigrants come from the Balkan countries, especially from Albania and the Albanian communities in the Republic of Macedonia, and other former Yugoslav republics.
Regarding the status of Muslims in Western Thrace, their identity was largely based on Turkish – Greek relations, which resulted in the emergence of a model of dual belonging based on religion and ethnicity in which Greece represents the motherland and Turkey represents the cultural and ethnic heritage. Although the Muslims of Western Thrace are citizens of Greece, a large number of them tend to speak the Turkish language and express an ethnic awareness of their Turkish origin.
The Muslim community in Western Thrace continued to object to the government’ s practice of appointing muftis, and instead pressed for the election of muftis by the Muslim community. The government maintains that governmental appointment was appropriate because the muftis retain judicial powers since the constitution does not allow the election of judges