ATHENS, Greece — Abdul rose just before sundown on one of the last days of the holy month of Ramadan. The 17-year-old refugee from Afghanistan was keeping odd hours, eating breakfast in place of dinner and passing the day in slumber.
Abdul, whose name has been changed to protect his privacy as a juvenile, lives in a shelter for underage refugees who arrived in Greece without parents. For many, this was their first Ramadan away from their families, and it was a lonely one.
“In Afghanistan, our father, mother, sister all fast. All people are doing it. Here, it’s different,” Abdul said. “It will be difficult for us, but we will not forget our religion.”
Abdul and his friends find themselves in one of the most homogeneous Christian nations in the world. Greece, which is 98 percent Orthodox Christian, hosted 1 million migrants on their way to other European countries. The vast majority of those passing through were Muslim.
Greece has won high praise for its hospitality toward the migrants. Some islanders on the front lines were even nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. Greeks take pride in this and point to their history to explain this reception.
But even given that proud history, academics and volunteers fear that the warm welcome of the last year could wear thin when the refugees start to integrate in a nation that has long resisted a multifaith identity.