Efsevia Lasithiotaki: The Greek speaking, Mulsim community of Mina in Lebanon and Hamidiye in Syria: identity construction processes. Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, Exeter University, UK. Supervisors: Professor Christine Allison and Dr Sophie Richter-Devroe. The focus of my thesis is a Greek speaking, Muslim community that resides in Syria and Lebanon that claims Greek identity and Diaspora membership on the basis of Greek language and culture. Unlike other voices in mainland Greece, and its Diaspora, that claim ‘Greekness’ on the basis of Greek language and Orthodox Christianity, the community under examination claims its ‘Greekness’ on the basis of Greek language and culture. The contemporary community claims to be the offspring of the Orthodox people that converted to Islam during the Ottoman Empire in Crete, and were moved to this corner of the Mediterranean with a decree of Sultan Abdul Hamid II. That was the outcome of many decades of clashes amongst Muslims and Christians on the island of Crete. When the island gained autonomy at the beginning of 1897, Sultan Abdul Hamid II arranged the transfer of the remaining Muslims of Crete to several regions of the Ottoman Empire. The contemporary community under examination is the offspring of the people settled in that part of the eastern Mediterranean, that later became Syria and Lebanon. It consists of about 3.500 people that reside in Syria, in Hamidiye village, and 6-7000 of the inhabitants of the city of Tripoli, and its port, El-Mina, in Lebanon. The goal of the research is to identify the ways through which the members of this transnational, diasporic, Greek speaking community negotiate their identity in the Eastern corner of the Mediterranean.
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