Anti-Greek sentiment

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Anti-Greek sentiment (also known as Hellenophobia[1][2] (Greek: ελληνοφοβία, ellēnophobía),[3] anti-Hellenism,[4][5] mishellenism[6][7] (Greek: μισελληνισμός, misellēnismós), or Greek-bashing)[8] refers to negative feelings, dislike, hatred, derision and/or prejudice towards Greeks, the Hellenic Republic, and Greek culture. It is the opposite of philhellenism.

Ancient Rome[edit]

In the mid-Republican period Rome phil-Hellenic and anti-Hellenic Roman intellectuals were involved in a conflict over Greek influence. One author explains, "the relationship of Romans to Greek culture was frequently ambiguous: they admired it as superior and adopted its criteria, while they remained skeptical of some aspects; hence they adapted it selectively according to their own purposes."[9] An anti-Hellenic movement emerged in reaction to the primacy of Greek led by the conservative and reactionary statesman Cato the Elder (234-149 BCE), who was the first to write a Roman history in Latin, and was prominent for his anti-Hellenic views.[10][11] He saw Hellenism a threat to Roman culture, but did not find wide support, especially in the upper class.[12] However, Erich S. Gruen argued that Cato's "anti-Greek 'pronouncements' reflect deliberate posturing and do not represent 'the core of Catonian though'."[13] The prominent philosopher and politician Cicero (106–43 BCE) was "highly ambivalent" about Greeks,[14] and practiced "anti-Greek slur".[15] The first-second century poet Juvenal was another major anti-Hellenic figure.[16][17]

Modern[edit]

Albania[edit]

In the Interwar period (1918–39), the Albanian government closed down Greek schools as part of its policies of assimilation.[18] During the Communist rule in Albania (1944–92), the government restricted the use of Greek language and Greek names by the country's Greek minority in an attempt of forced assimilation.[19] Anti-Greek sentiment dominated the thinking of Enver Hoxha, the communist leader of Albania, during the Greek Civil War.[20]

In post-Communist Albania, "there are no significant explicitly racist or chauvinist political parties", although, according to James Pettifer, "there are many individual politicians who adhere to very strong anti-Greek views, which in turn affects the orientation of virtually all ethnic Albanian political parties."[21] In a 2013 poll in Albania, Greece topped the list of countries perceived to be a threat to Albania (18.5%), although the plurality of respondents (46.4%) agreed with the statement "No country is a threat to Albania".[22]

Australia[edit]

Greeks in Australia have been subject to discrimination. During World War I, due to King Constantine I's pro-German sympathies, Greek immigrants were viewed with hostility and suspicion. Anti-Greek riots occurred in Perth in 1915 and in Kalgoorlie in 1916.[23][24]

The word "wog" is an ethnic slur used in Australia to refer to Southern European and Middle Eastern people of the Mediterranean region, including Greeks.[25][26] The term has also been adopted and used by Greek Australians to refer to themselves, including through the sitcom Acropolis Now (1989–92), the television spin-off of the 1987 play Wogs Out of Work[27] and the 2000 film The Wog Boy.

Bulgaria[edit]

In 1906, during the Macedonian Struggle, anti-Greek rallies and violent attacks took place in a number of Bulgarian cities. In Plovdiv, Greek Orthodox churches and schools, Greek-owned properties were looted and plundered. In Pomorie (Anchialos) the Greek population was expelled after the city was set up on fire and up to 110 Greeks were killed. Pogroms also took place in Varna, Burgas and other locations.[28] Following the pogroms, around 20,000 Greeks fled Bulgaria.[29]

Canada[edit]

On August 2–5, 1918, a three-day anti-Greek riot occurred in Toronto. "Mobs of up to 5,000 people, led by war veterans returned from Europe, marched through the city's main streets waging pitched battles with law enforcement officers and destroying every Greek business they came across." The consequence was damages of $100,000 to Greek businesses and private property.[30]

Republic of Macedonia[edit]

The Macedonia naming dispute since the breakup of Yugoslavia has given rise to anti-Greek sentiment in the Republic of Macedonia.[31] According to one author, there was "considerable popular anti-Greek feeling in Macedonia" as of 2004.[32] On the contrary, German diplomat Geert-Hinrich Ahrens (ger) wrote in 2007 that he "had never detected any anti-Greek manifestations" in the republic.[33]

The ruling party of the Republic of Macedonia, Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization – Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE), founded in 1990, includes the name of Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization, a revolutionary movement active in the early 20th century, which is regarded by Greeks "a notorious anti-Greek terrorist organization."[34] According to Dimitar Bechev, a British-based international relations researcher, Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski (the leader of VMRO-DPMNE) exploited "anti-Greek nationalism" during the 2008 parliamentary election.[35] In 2012 Gruevski accused Greece of having waged "political genocide" against his country. Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Gregory Delavekouras responded that Gruevski's statements "stoke the systematic negative government propaganda that is aimed at turning public opinion in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia against Greece."[36]

Soviet Union[edit]

Between 1919 and 1924 around 47,000 Greeks emigrated from Russia to Greece as a result of the official and unofficial anti-Greek sentiment in Russia, which in its turn was a result of the Greek intervention in the Black Sea region in the Russian Civil War against the Bolsheviks.[37]

Tens of thousands of Greeks were deported to the remote parts of the Soviet Union during World War II in the Greek Operation of NKVD.

Turkey[edit]

The Lincoln Daily Star, October 19, 1917

Anti-Greek sentiment is "deeply rooted" in the Turkish public.[38] A 2011 survey in Turkey revealed that 67% of respondents had unfavorable views toward Greeks,[39] although only 6% of Turks said Greece was their country's main enemy in a poll carried out in the same year.[40] Despite this, according to political scientist Emre Erdogan, Greece remains one of the "eternal enemies of Turkey", along with Armenia.[41] Journalist Dr. Cenk Saraçoğlu of Ankara University argues that anti-Greek attitudes in Turkey "are no longer constructed and shaped by social interactions between the 'ordinary people' [...] Rather, the Turkish media and state promote and disseminate an overtly anti-Greek discourse."[42] On the other hand, Turkish political scientist Bahar Rumelili wrote in 2007:[43]

Both the Turkish government and the Turkish military have made public statements that Turkey no longer sees Greece as its rival. While a small minority in Turkish society maintains its anti-Greek sentiments and actions, there is a growing liking for Greek society and culture and an increasing awareness of the Greek heritage in Turkey.

During and following World War I, almost all of the Greek population of Anatolia was either exterminated by the Ottoman government or later transferred to Greece as part of a population exchange.

In September 1955 the Turkish government sponsored anti-Greek riots and pogrom in Istanbul.[44][45] The dispute over Cyprus kept anti-Greek feelings in Turkey high. At the height of the intercommunal violence in Cyprus, thousands of Greeks were expelled from Turkey, mostly Istanbul. In March of that year all persons (over 6,000) with Greek citizenship were expelled "on the grounds that they were dangerous to the 'internal and external' security of the state." Additionally, in September 1964, 10,000 Greeks were expelled. Cumhuriyet reported that 30,000 "Turkish nationals of Greek descent had left permanently, in addition to the Greeks who had been expelled."[46] Within months a total of 40,000 Greeks were expelled from Istanbul.[47]

In 1999 Turkey "was again swept by a wave of anti-Greek sentiment, encouraged by the Turkish government"[48] following the capture of the Kurdistan Workers' Party leader Abdullah Öcalan.[49] However, as a result of the "earthquake diplomacy" and the subsequent rapprochement efforts between Greece and Turkey, the public perception of Greece as their main enemy decreased in Turkey from 29% in 2001 to 16.9% in 2004.[50]

The Grey Wolves, a far-right organization associated with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), routinely demonstrate outside the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in Fener (Phanar), Istanbul and burn the Patriarch in effigy.[51] In October 2005 they staged a rally and proceeding to the gate they laid a black wreath, chanting "Patriarch Leave" and "Patriarchate to Greece", inaugurating the campaign for the collection of signatures to oust the Ecumenical Patriarchate from Istanbul.[52] As of 2006 the Grey Wolves claimed to have collected more than 5 million signatures for the withdrawal of the Patriarch[53] and called on the Turkish government to have the patriarch deported to Greece.[54]

United States[edit]

In the early 20th century Greeks in the United States were discriminated against in many ways. In 1904 Greek immigrants, unaware of labor conditions and largely inexperienced, served as strikebreakers during a strike in Chicago diesel shops. This fueled anti-Greek sentiment among union members. Three Greek immigrants were killed during a riot in 1908 in McGill, Nevada.[55] On February 21, 1909 a major anti-Greek riot took place in South Omaha, Nebraska. The Greek population was forced to leave the city, while properties owned by Greek migrants were destroyed.[56] Greeks were viewed with particular contempt in the Mormon stronghold of Utah. The local press characterized them as "a vicious element unfit for citizenship and as ignorant, depraved, and brutal foreigners." Anti-Greek riots occurred in Salt Lake City in 1917 which "almost resulted" in lynching of a Greek immigrant.[55] In 1922, as a response to the anti-Greek nativist xenophobia by the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) was founded, which sought to Americanize the Greek immigrant in America.[57]

In December 2014 MTV aired the first episode of its new reality show Growing Up Greek. It was immediately denounced by Greek Americans and characterized as "stereotype-laden"[58] and "offensive".[59] The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) called for it to be canceled.[60]

Western Europe[edit]

Historical

Following the East–West Schism of 1054, anti-Greek sentiment became widespread in the Latin West (dominated by the Catholic Church). It reached its climax during the Fourth Crusade and the 1204 sack of Constantinople, the Byzantine capital, and the establishment of the Latin Empire.[61]

Modern

As a result of the Greek government-debt crisis, starting in 2010, anti-Greek sentiments grew in some European countries, especially in Germany.[62][63][64] A 2014 study found, "An anti-Greek sentiment evolved and spread among German citizens and solidarity for crisis-hit Greece was mostly rejected."[65] In 2012 Pew Research Center found that "Among the major European countries, Greece is clearly the least popular. And its reputation is slipping. In no country, other than Greece itself, is there a majority with a favorable view of Greece." Only 27% of respondents in Germany viewed Greece favorably.[66]

Hostile and unfavorable views towards Greece and Greeks were especially pronounced in the tabloid press. A 2013 study found that "British and German news sources indicate bias against Greece in financial crisis coverage, although likely with important differences; both, however, include stereotypes, the recommendation of austerity as a punishment, morality tales, an absence of solidarity, and fear mongering."[67] The popular German tabloid Bild "published numerous reports that implicitly and explicitly constituted the myth of the corrupt and lazy Greeks in comparison to the hard-working Germans."[65] Dutch TV producer Ingeborg Beugel (nl) opined that "the [anti-Greek] propaganda of the mainstream media provides Europe and the Netherlands with a convenient scapegoat to exploit."[68]

German politicians such as Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder publicly criticized the anti-Greek sentiment in their country and called for solidarity with Greece.[69][70][71]

References[edit]

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