Interview With a Convert Greek Lady
By Euro-Muslims Editorial Desk
As the first step in our journey to discover the European Muslim women's opportunities and challenges that are hindering them from integrating into Europe's different communities, IslamOnline.net (IOL)'s European Muslims Page is quoting Anna Stamou on the status of Greek Muslim women.
Name: Anna Stamou
Profession: Anna Stamou is one of the National Board Members of Muslim Association of Greece (MAG)
IslamOnline.net (IOL): How do you evaluate the Muslim women's situation in Europe?
Mrs. Stamou: I believe that the Muslim women in Europe have many opportunities to succeed in their fields of interest. However, they still face more challenges since the European atmosphere is not Muslim-friendly, though Europe is a tolerant continent.
So, in the name of "equal rights" slogan, Muslim women will succeed in education, arts, business, and in every field that Europe offers. In combination with their Islamic faith they can present a new role model of a successful European Muslim woman, despite the Islamic dress code that worries Europe
IOL: What are the major problems facing Muslim women in the West? And how do you suggest they should react to these problems?
Mrs.Stamou: In this context, I recall a Greek saying "The Muslim woman has to prove that she is not an elephant," this means that she must change the stereotypes that perceive the Muslim women as being oppressed, hidden behind their veils, brain washed, and with no free will and no rights.
After a Muslim woman manages to prove all these stereotypes wrong, then she has to encounter all major problems that any ordinary European woman has: starting with unemployment and having less career opportunities than men.
However, with faith and high educational level, a Muslim woman is able to cope with all challenges in life and to reflect her true reality.
IOL: What is the status of Muslim women in Greece? Are there any key figures who occupy high positions in society?
Mrs. Stamou:Greece is divided into two main Muslim communities that rarely communicate. The smaller but the older community is the Greek Muslim minority of Thrace while the bigger but newer is the Muslim immigrants' community. The later live all over Greece. The Greek converts mingle with the immigrant and mostly with the Arabic-speaking community.
The majority of the immigrant women in Greece are not active, especially for those women who try to provide Islamic education for other women or for their children. The successful women in Thrace have (in the majority) weak religious conscience and they try to manage their lives showing up their secular face.
Though we have some Greek Muslim women working in politics, they don't wear hijab and they have never demanded any rights for Muslims. They pursue only their local claims (which are really a lot). The active women are the Greek converts who maintain their Greek culture and practice Islam freely.
IOL: What are your contributions in favor of the Muslim women in your country?
Mrs.Stamou: Since I became a Muslim, all my focus was on providing Islamic information, material, and inspiration for fellow Muslims. I started with publishing books and an Islamic cultural newspaper then my efforts included supporting other converts.
Now my responsibilities increased since I joined the Greeks Rethink team. I'm also responsible for the marketing and public relations of the Muslim Association of Greece.
I wish I could have the opportunity to organize a supporting program only for Muslim women, but so far this is not feasible because most of the Muslim women in my area have to reach the first integration step which is to learn Greek.
The Ministry of Education and the local authorities have launched very useful programs for teaching Greek to immigrants. Definitely we support those programs and encourage every Muslim woman who does not speak Greek to go and attend one of these programs. We are looking forward for the coming steps.
In fact, my team and I have many dreams and plans for Muslims in Greece. I strongly believe that all our activities will benefit my beloved country, because we do love Greece and Islam; an irresistible combination!
Euro-Muslims Editorial Desk