Athens: A Muslim Woman Shakes up Greek Politics

Posted on May 25, 2006


karaxasan.jpgby melinda elliott 

Because of Greece’s 400 year occupation by the Turks, some Greeks still harbour distrust and/or resentment towards the Turkish muslim population inside Greece today.

So, when Gulbeyaz Karahasan, a 28 year-old lawyer from northern Greece was chosen as PASOK’s candidate for the upcoming prefect elections to represent Drama-Kavala-Xanthi, the decision sparked criticism from both the Bishop Anthimos of Thessaloniki and the Macedonia-Thrace minister, Giorgos Kalantzis.

Unfortunately, their criticism of PASOK’s choice has nothing to do with her qualifications as a politician but rather, with her religion. Mr. Kalantzis questioned her loyalty to her country by asking her if "she would stand next to him during the March 25 celebrations"–the day chosen to commemorate Greece’s independence from Turkish rule. This challenge prompted Ms. Karahasan to respond "I am Greek and Muslim in faith. I was born and brought up in Greece and I attended a Greek University. I believe in a modern society that stands no discriminations. A society that appreciates and respects everyone’s opinions."

Even though Mr. Kalantzis states he never questioned her nationality, he has questioned her loyalty to Greece on the basis of her religion which shouldn’t have been an issue either since the Greek Constitution specifically states…
Article 4
1. All Greeks are equal before the law.
2. Greek men and women have equal rights and equal obligations.
4. Only Greek citizens shall be eligible for public service, except as otherwise provided by special laws.

If anyone has any criticism about Ms. Karahasan, then it should be restricted to the scope of her abilities and qualifications as they pertain to her capabilities as a politician. I wish her well in the upcoming elections because Greece certainly needs more elected women officials and hope that voters’ opinions won’t be clouded by religious intolerance and past prejudice.