Athens Is Only EU Capital Without a Mosque

And the BBC is not impressed:

Stressing that Athens is the only EU (European Union) capital without a mosque, the BBC has revealed that some 300,000 Muslims living in the Greek capital are sandwiched in basements to pray, the To Vima (Greek) website reports today
(December 28, 2012).

“The absence of a mosque here (Athens) is a great tragedy for us Muslims,” said Mohammad Jamil Sient, a native of Pakistan now living in Athens. He added, “Greece invented democracy, culture, and respect for each other’s religion, but does not respect us Muslims enough to give us a normal, legitimate mosque.”

There is resistance from various quarters — including some priests of the Greek Orthodox Church — that are opposed to a mosque in Athens. Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus — the seaport area of Athens — told the BBC, “Greece suffered five centuries of Islamic tyranny under the Turkish yoke and construction of the mosque would insult witnesses who liberated us.”

A BBC correspondent said Seraphim’s viewpoint is Islamophobic and discriminates against Muslims.

Children are Being Abandoned on Greece’s Streets

Children ‘dumped in streets by Greek parents who can’t afford to look after them any more’

Shocking!

Children are being abandoned on Greece’s streets by their poverty-stricken families who cannot afford to look after them any more.

Youngsters are being dumped by their parents who are struggling to make ends meet in what is fast becoming the most tragic human consequence of the Euro crisis.

It comes as pharmacists revealed the country had almost run out of aspirin, as multi-billion euro austerity measures filter their way through society…

More here.

What a mess!

Lord have mercy…

 

Barbarians, Beware!

 

People are still influenced and informed by traditional, low-tech means through public monuments, gatherings and speeches, but are also targeted with messages and information on current events or matters of state through television, radio, internet and the print media.

In ancient times, on the other hand, religious, political or social messages aimed at the public were commonly transmitted through sculpted, figural art. Public buildings were often designed as imposing, three-dimensional message boards.

Today, with central Athens again witnessing violent clashes between demonstrators and police, one has only to look to the Acropolis or the Acropolis Museum’s Parthenon Hall for age-old public reminders carved in stone that a civilised society’s resistance against barbarism and chaos is a timeless struggle, never to be forgotten …

Do read on in Athens News here.

HTRogue Classicism

Ark of the Covenant Found in Greece?

Don’t bet on it! Anyway, here is the Huffington Post with the news:

Reports are cropping up that the fabled Ark of the Covenant, said to contain the remnants of the Ten Commandments, has been discovered along with the Tomb of Alexander the Great on the Greek island of Thasos.

The Focus Information Agency, a Bulgarian outfit not exactly renowned for accuracy, is reporting that Grekomania.ru, a Russian web portal that purports to be an “official information partner of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Greece,” has claimed that a group led by Nikolaos Kumardzis, an archeologist apparently unaffiliated with any other dig, has identified one of the world’s great treasures. At least one Armenian newspaper is running a similar story.

What more confirmation could anyone possibly want?

Thasos, which is near Macedonia, has long been rumored as the potential resting place of Alexander the Great, who died in Babylon in 323 BC after conquering Persia and consolidating Eurasian power. The connection between the great military leader and the ten commandments — none of which he could truly be said to have followed — is unclear, which makes the news that they were discovered together even less credible.

That being said, the Ark of the Covenant has inspired travelers and explorers for hundreds of years and is likely to continue to do so. It is worth remembering that pilgrimages remain part of the modern travel culture and that visiting relics or searching for them is quite popular in much of the world…

These sorts of purported sensational finds perpetually pop up in the news. Nothing new. Same old trash.

An Idiot’s Guide to the Greek Debt Crisis

ABC News has it (for people like me) :

The European Union is an economic and political institution forged over decades, sealed with a treaty in 1993  but only, truly made real in 2002, when most of the current member states dropped their currency in favor of the common  euro. For centuries a breeding ground for war and imperialism, Western Europe had bound itself together in peace and apparent prosperity, with a supranational government all its own to be quartered in Brussels.

Its anthem: “Ode to Joy.”

Things have changed. While most major banks remain multinational (with interests around the world) their errors — some would say crimes — have brought renewed focus on the sovereign state. Today, with Greece on the edge of default, the euro zone nations have a new catchphrase: “Exposure.” As in, how much “exposure” do our banks have to the bad debt held by yours.

It’s enough to make one’s head take an “Exorcist”-style lap around the neck. But here, below, is a simple guide to this latest and most important chapter in the crisis. The results in Greece will likely determine, and certainly predict, the fate of the European Union. This is the least you should know.

Why is Greece in debt?

Like any state (or person, for that matter) it spent more money than it took in. Traditionally, but especially after switching over to the euro, the Greek government paid out huge amounts of cash it simply did not have. To compound this, the retirement age there is low by modern Western standards, and benefits are generous. Public sector employees are well paid.

Sounds good, right?

The problem is that Greece is also infamous for mass tax evasion. That means severely limited revenue. So when the money ran out, Athens turned to European banks for loans. Soon, the government was borrowing billions and those debts, like subprime mortgages in the United States, were often repackaged and sold off around the Continent. Everyone, especially banks in France and Germany, wanted a piece. Now  they have it.

Why does Europe — indeed, the world — care so much about Greece’s debts?

One of the perceived perks when Europe got together on a single currency (Greeks, for instance, gave up the drachma for the euro) was that a strong Europe could prop up an individual state in a time of need. But what’s happened is that Europe itself has become too weak, in the aftermath of the global financial meltdown, to bite the bullet on a country like Greece. A default would shatter otherwise monetarily strong countries like Germany. The Germans, like the Americans, would be left with a host of “too big to fail” banks ready to do just that…

Do read on here.

 

Occupy the Greek Orthodox Church

Having mentioned that the occupy movement is coming to South Africa [sigh], I see that there is another new idea out: Occupy the Greek Orthodox Church.

As the debate about IMF- and EU-imposed austerity measures and the possibility of a Greek government default continues, there is one important piece of the puzzle that has not been widely reported outside of Greece. And it involves the Orthodox Church.

What has been reported is important, to be sure. The IMF’s and EU’s motives to date have been limited to ensuring that the troubled European banks most heavily implicated in bad Greek debt get repaid. Their shocking austerity measures—pensions cut in half, retirement age increased, huge cuts in social programs, education and health care, and crushing unemployment as the inevitable result—have been designed to help Northern European banks, no matter the cost to the Greek people.

More recently, street protests, nationwide strikes organized by the unions, and targeted work slowdowns by air traffic controllers among others, have been designed to insist that the people are paying more than their fair share, whereas the banks are not paying anything at all. Whether you prefer the word ‘default’ or the phrase ‘debt restructuring,’ a more just outcome would be one in which the banks absorb some of this pain as well, by agreeing to be repaid fifty cents on the euro for all the bad loans that they made. That is what’s in the works this week.

But something new and unprecedented is in the works in Greece itself: for the first time, the Orthodox Church has been identified as the corporation it is, and the suggestion is that it should pay its fair share as well. The Greek Orthodox Church pays very low taxes on its vast real estate holdings and its clerics are paid by the state. That hand-in-glove relationship may be about to change.

In an amazing development, the Greek Prime Minister, George Papandreiou, went to Mount Athos two days ago to meet with the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomaios, to discuss the decidedly un-spiritual matter of the Orthodox Church’s responsibilities in this time of Greek crisis.

Even more interesting is that the Church seems to be moving toward a deal. It has already signaled its willingness to use its vast real estate holdings to help finance the government’s debt, though it insists on doing anything on its own timetable and in its own way.

This is remarkable, and we shall see what comes of it. Depending on what we see, it might signal a radical new strategy for recovering money from corporations that do not pay their fair share, and a radical new view of churches as corporations…

 

Christianity on the Line!

Blessed are the Peacemakers:

The context: “A Greek Orthodox Priest tries to stop a rioter from throwing a Molotov cocktail at Greek Police.”

Definitely my pic of the day too!

HT

 

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