Religious Education in Greek Public Schools in Western Thrace: Identifying Controversial Issues

Marios Koukounaras-Liagkis


This article concerns two recent political legislative moves by the Greek government and one in regard to Religious Education (RE) in schools. The latter concerns compulsory RE and the right to exemption for Orthodox students. The former concerns the new Curriculum of compulsory education (2011) which keeps RE as a distinctive compulsory subject for all, claiming that RE has been non-confessional since 2003 and an Amendment (2013) of Law 3536/2007 which was never implemented. The Amendment enacts a formal Muslim RE only for the schools of Western Thrace and for the students of the Muslim Minority who register at Greek public schools and have the right to withdraw from RE due to reasons relating to their religious consciousness. The native Muslims of Western Thrace (a region in the northern part of Greece bordering Turkey) are recognized as a minority according to the Lausanne Treaty (1923). They comprise 50% of the population, and according to the Treaty they have their own religion and educational system. The author takes into account the complexity of religion, education and politics in the region and addresses controversial issues on the topic of RE that have been raised not only in local society but also between academics, educationists and educators. The question arises as to whether the Greek State is really concerned with RE and the type of RE to be offered to children. Fieldwork by interviewing persons responsible for or related to the subject and articles of local and national newspapers provided the sources for the paper.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2013.v4n11p274

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Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences ISSN 2039-9340(Print) ISSN 2039-2117(Online)

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