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N.Papageorgiou:Ethno-religious coexistence in Thessaloniki: Moving toward a multicultural society

Over the past 100 years that have elapsed since Thessaloniki (as well as Macedonia and Thrace that constitute Northern Greece) was incorporated in the Greek state, the identity of the ci­ty underwent many changes. The departure of the Turks and Bulgarians after the liberation from the Ottoman regime in 1912, the massive arrival of Greek origin refugees from Minor Asia in 1922 and the fierce persecution of Hebrews that constituted 25% of the population of the city during the World War II period (1941-44), have all contributed to the creation of a na­tio­nal­ly homogenous profile of the city, which was compatible with the ideology of national identity of the modern Greek state.

The collapse, however, of global dipolism and the opening of the borders of Eastern Europe (after 1989) on the one hand, as well as the economic and political stability of Greece that resulted from a variety of factors (such as the accession to the European Union) on the other, quickly turned Greece into a migrant-receiving country. Thessaloniki in particular, because of its neighbouring geographical position to the ex-Eastern Block as well as its dynamic economic development and life, found itself in the first line of migrational demand and settlement. The first flux of immigrants that entered the city were repatriated Greeks who had settled -for almost three generations- in the countries of the ex-Soviet Union. The second flux was immigrants from neighbouring Balkan countries, such as Albania, Bulgaria, and Romania. The third flux were immigrants coming from Asia (principally Pakistan, Afghanistan, China) and Africa (Nigeria etc).

These immigrants, together with their ability to work, carry their national and cultural identity, religion included. This situation inevitably influences the profile of the city which tends to transform again into a multicultural one. The reactions are many and various but at the same time reality is beyond doubt: the immigrants have joined the workforce, contribute to the local (as well as national) economy and claim a cultural position in the constantly changing multicultural landscape of Thessaloniki.

Category: Abstracts | Added by: margalita (18.10.2009)
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