Recently there was lot of excitement in the Zionist world about banning of mosques with minarets in Switzerland – a country never ruled by Muslims. However, there is country in Europe which was ruled by Muslims for over 300 years – but its capital city where Muslims doesn’t have a single proper mosque to say their daily prayers. Well, I am talking about Athens, the capital city of Greece – the very city which was under Muslim rule from 1458 to 1821.
The Greek peninsula was part of Byzantine Empire for 900 years until Turks conquered Athens in 1458. By 1500, the most of Greece was under Ottoman rule which lasted until 1821. During Ottoman rules – Turk Muslim immigrants settled in Therace while Jew refugees from Spain settled in Salonica.
The majority of Ottoman Sultans were very tolerant towards Christian and Jews. The religious affairs of both the non-Muslim communities were run by the Orthodox Archbishop and the Chief Rabbi of the empire. No church or Synagogue was demolished nor turned into a mosque in Greece. By the end of Ottoman rule, Athens had several dozens of mosques – now the only two are left but are not allowed to be used as mosques. One is the Fetheie Cami built in the late 15th century and resembles an Orthodox church – the other is Djisdaraki build in 1759. In addition to mosques, Ottomans also build baths and madrassas, none which has survived though the remains of the city wall, build in 1788 by Ali Hadeski can still be seen.
Israel Shamir, a Russian-Israeli jew writer wrote about the Ottoman tolerance and the empire’s glory in his essay, titled Ottoman Empire, please come back! wrote:
“The East has retained its Christian identity, for Islam is just a form of Christianity, though as distanced from the Nicene Orthodoxy as is the Calvinism of the Swiss. The East denies Mammons for we have not rejected of God, we put spirit above material considerations as we have not rejected Christ al Mesih …… Let’s raise the twin-headed eagle of Byzantium once again as a symbol of our Eastern Civilization’s of the Orthodox and Muslims, invest our rulers the twin crown of Caliph of Islam and the Emperor of the Orthodox, bury petty nationalism of the recent past and begin an exciting new page in our history and the history of the world…..”
The secular and progressive pretentions of the West may have usurped the church’s place but it always secretly held a religion content. The West’s double standards aimed at Meslims are actually the historical and religious content of the Europeanism concept that lies deep within the appearance of secularism.