“I have traveled to many countries. But the racism I met in Greece, I have not seen anywhere else.”

17 Aug

“Afghan refugees pray during Ramadan in Athens,” also from Demotix and by Christos Stamos, a Greek to be proud of (FB motto: “The whole secret of existence is to have no fear.”)

Under intense fear of increasing racist attacks on places of prayer, Afghan refugees, many of whom are Shia Muslims, gather to pray during Ramadan in a private community building that they have as their cultural center. (click)

Under intense fear of increasing racist attacks on places of prayer, Afghan refugees, many of whom are Shia Muslims, gather to pray during Ramadan in a private community building that they have as their cultural center.
Athens is the only European capital that does not have a mosque yet.
That is why Muslims are forced to gather in private places to attend services and pray.

Ramadan is the month of fasting from dawn until sunset.
Every sunset Muslims gather to pray and have a common dining.
The building of the community is not in the center of Athens, and so the majority of Afghan refugees that cannot afford even the bus tickets, come here walking from the center, where they mainly live.
The atmosphere here is very pleasant. They greet each other with a warm handshake and a smile.
In the area of the prayer, there is a dividing curtain that separates the part of women with part of the men, so they cannot see each other while praying.
The property is underground and narrow for about five hundred people that have gathered to pray. The Athenian August is very hot and despite the fans on the roof, this cannot not prevent you from sweat.

These days Imam Mr. Sayyed Hasbem Khatami, who travels around the world, wherever there are Afghan refugees, is here to teach.

I met Mr Khatami and we exchanged a few words.
He says: “ When Muslims meet someone, a stranger or a known person, their very first word in their greeting translates: “Peace be upon you”. This has the meaning that what every I may offer to you has to be good. I have to offer you good food, good hospitality, good behaviour, etc. This peace that I wish you, is a series of obligations that I have in front of you. This permeates all our relationships.”

Mr Khatami speaks like he is familiar with the Greek reality: “Greeks should be informed by the Greek State, for what we do here!.”

About Afghan refugees living in Greece: “Our people must have knowledge: How we have to be in your country. What is the laws of your country. What we can do and what we cannot do.
For example in Canada, the state undertakes and explains to you what is the law.
They come to us and explain: You can do this! You cannot do that!

Here in Greece, nobody explains to us what is the law.
We have found a rough solution by asking NGO’s to send their members to speak and explain to these people, how is life here.

Every night about five hundred people walk from the center to this place, in dangerous streets, where racist attacks occur in daily basis. Greek state could have offered a bus service during Ramadan, for these families to be carried safe.

I have traveled to many countries. But the racism I met in Greece, I have not seen anywhere else.

Greek Police officially informed us to be careful because of the attacks.
So we have put guards on the door. And we pray in fear.”

Then Mr Khatami started his speech before the prayers.
Anyone would have expected to speak only on matters of religion.
But in his speech there are many tips for the laws that exist in Greece. He speaks with references in the Koran for the respect that should show when we are in a foreign country.

______________________________________________________

The prayer is followed by the common dinner.
I speak with Nadim who is 28 years old, and came in Greece from Afghanistan 8 years ago.
He says:
“ We forget that we are humans. We are Muslims, we are Christians, we are Greeks, we are Afghans, we are with the one political party or the other, but we forget the simple truth: We are humans.
Let us forget all the other things that separate us, and behave to each other like humans.

When I come here to this community place, I have very good time. I start smiling again.

My family is dispersed in various countries. In Iran and in Europe.
The same applies to many Afghan refugees.

We do not have the basics: eight hours work and eight hours rest, as mentioned by our religion.
I hope that the next generation will have the basics.

My favourite quote is from a Facebook page: “Things Are to Be Used and People Are to Be Loved”“

 

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

One Response to ““I have traveled to many countries. But the racism I met in Greece, I have not seen anywhere else.””

  1. istanpolis August 17, 2012 at 2:09 am #

    Victims of islamophobia. Not the refugees but the Neo Greeks are.

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