This chapter looks at Greece’s ‘new’ Muslim residents, their growing presence and visibility in the public sphere and the ways they are portrayed in dominant public discourses. Building on a variety of sources, it traces the growth and diversity of immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries and explores the rise of migrant Muslim communities in the public sphere. Such a growing presence suggests a multiple shift regarding the character of Islam in Greece. Even though Islam is not new to a state that emerged from the Ottoman Empire and hosts an indigenous Muslim minority, the chapter argues that it undergoes a shift from the margins to the fore, and therefore Greece may be seen as undergoing a transition from a transition a ‘peripheral’ case in Europe to a ‘core’ one whereby Muslim communities relate to transnational migration.
This paper studies the ritual of Ashura as performed by a group of Shia Pakistani migrants in Piraeus, Greece, inscribed in the context of the financial crisis that is currently shaking the country and its socio-political implications, notably the rise of the far-right. Based on participant observation, we start by unfolding the discourses through which our interlocutors attempt to legitimise their religious practices, by connecting the Karbala narrative with the current political oppression of Shiite minorities, but also by articulating a poetics of similarity with equivalent acts of faith from the Greek cultural context, rather than arguments on multiculturalist difference. We then turn our attention to the way Ashura is portrayed by Greek art and media, and we unpack how the poetics of similarity and the politics of difference are presented from different viewpoints. Finally, we study how the interrelations between this migrant Shiite community and ideas regarding the “national self” are manifested in symbolic uses of blood—from murderous threats received by Neo-Nazi groups, to their rejected proposal for a blood-donation campaign parallel to the Ashura.