Studying Islam outside of stereotypes

The undergraduate Muslim Studies program at Thessaloniki's Aristotle University provides training in fields that include the various expressions of Islam, such as the study and interpretation of the Quran. Graduates of the program come from all over Greece. [Shutterstock]

In December 2016, the first graduates of the newly established program Introduction to Muslim Studies, at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, sat down to study Islam, an emerging world which, in one way or another (positive or negative), we find before us and must learn to "read," away from stereotypes and prejudices. The introduction of the program, for which the decision had been taken since 2014, did not start well. A section of the Greek Orthodox Church, the university community and the conservative political class reacted vociferously, alleging there was a danger of turning the university into a "breeding ground for Islamic extremism" and mass-producing fanatical imams. Some academics and non-academics even appealed to the Council of State, Greece's highest administrative court - and lost.

Kathimerini had joined the first class of new students in 2017, curious to...

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