Serapheim, bishop of Piraeus, described Islam as "a catastrophic worship" that is incompatible with Greece's constitution. He also blamed Greece's financial crisis on Zionist machinations. Serapheim also urged the government to scrap the planned construction of a mosque in Athens for the city's growing Muslim population. Wednesday's statement said that while bishops have the right to express their views they "also bear the burden of proving them."
Most of Greece gradually became part of the Ottoman Empirefrom the 15th century until its declaration of independence in 1821, a historical period also known as Tourkokratia (Greek:Τουρκοκρατία, "Turkish rule").
The Byzantine Empire, which had ruled most of the Greek-speaking world for over 1100 years, had been fatally weakened since the sacking of Constantinople by the Crusaders in 1204.
The Ottoman advance into Greece was preceded by victory over the Serbs to its north. First the Ottomans won at 1371 on theMaritsa River — where the Serb forces were led by the KingVukasin Mrnjavcevic, the father of Marko Kraljevic and the co-ruler of the last emperor from the Serbian Nemanjic dynasty. This was followed by another Ottoman victory in the 1389 Battle of Kosovo.
With no further threat by the Serbs, the Ottomans captured Constantinople in 1453 and advanced southwards into Greece, capturing Athens in 1458. The Greeks held out in thePeloponnese until 1460, and the Venetians and Genoese clung to some of the islands, but by 1500 most of the plains and islands of Greece were in Ottoman hands. The mountains of Greece were largely untouched, and were a refuge for Greeks to flee foreign rule and engage in guerrilla warfare.
Cyprus fell in 1571, and the Venetians retained Crete until 1670. The Ionian Islands were only briefly ruled by the Ottomans (Kefalonia from 1479 to 1481 and from 1485 to 1500), and remained primarily under the rule of Venice.
Religious Freedom to Christians:
The Sultan regarded the Ecumenical Patriarch of theGreek Orthodox Church as the leader of all Orthodox, Greeks or not, within the empire. The Patriarch was accountable to the Sultan for the good behavior of the Orthodox population, and in exchange he was given wide powers over the Orthodox communities, including ethnic Greeks. The Patriarch controlled the courts and the schools, as well as the Church, throughout the Greek communities of the empire.
As a rule, the Ottomans did not require the Greeks to become Muslims, although many did so in order to avert the socioeconomic hardships of Ottoman rule or because of the corruption of the Greek clergy. Under the millet logic, a converted Greek, although retaining culture and language, was classified simply as "Muslim". In the eyes of the Christians, however, they were deemed Turks.