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Islamic Radicalisation processes in Greece

The surge of immigration especially during the course of the past twenty years has created an unprecedented situation, to many analysts a ‘Trojan Horse’ of radical Islam inside the usually tolerant and liberal Western European societies bringing the respective governments now before a fait accompli situation that must be dealt with by all parties involved, that is the societies and governments of the host countries as well as the home countries of these immigrants.

Greece constitutes a unique and interesting case in many ways. First, although a member of NATO, EU, EMU and Western defensive and political mechanisms in general has not so far been the target of an attack or ‘theatre of operation’ for Islamic terrorist groups despite its proximity to the Muslim world of both Asia (Central, South Asia and the Middle East) and North Africa as well as the Muslim populations of the Balkan peninsula. The scope of this study is to attempt to give a fair description of the background of general immigration trends to Greece since the early 1990s after the fall of the socialist regimes in Central, Eastern Europe and the USSR, the new wave of immigration which can be traced in the early years of the new century and then will move on to the dangers presented by the
current situation within Greece given the unprecedented number of Muslim immigrants currently in the country, most of them having crossed the borders illegally hence difficult to be traced in terms of ideology, background, believes and intentions.

The introduction and first part of the paper give a background of immigration history and current trends in the country affected by developments in Asia and North Africa. The second and third chapters will look at the status and composition of the Muslim communities in the country, both the historic ones as well as the ones that have emerged since the early 1990s. It will also look at the organisations currently existing in the country and the respective Muslim communities’ leaders. The third chapter will be looking at the very serious issue of the illegal mosques and ‘cultural centres’ currently popping out throughout the country as well as the major issue of the creation of a legal, major mosque in Athens as the Greek capital is the only European one currently without a main Muslim place of worship. Chapter four will examine problems related to border control as it is for this reason that illegal immigration has surged during the past twenty or so years as well as the current operations there by the EU Frontex team and the issue of the construction of a fence along the Greek-Turkish borders as a deterrence for the ever-increasing influx of immigrants. The fifth chapter will examine specific Islamic-related terrorism incidents. As mentioned above, although Greece has not yet been a target of Islamic terrorism, as this paper will show, it is becoming a soft base of terrorist activity especially for background purposes, training, accommodation of certain individuals to be forwarded to Western Europe and financing for operations in third countries given the ever-increasing pool of ‘candidates’, that is illegal immigrants who are slowly acquiring a base in the country and can potentially turn radical.

Given the founding’s of this study, the conclusion will describe the main challenges the Greek State and society face today in view of the current trends and in what ways these trends can be reversed as well as how can Greece challenge the cause of the problem of radicalisation of the country’s Muslim populations for today’s and future generations of both Greeks and the legally residing non Greek citizens of the country.

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