Shifting the goalposts again

PASOK leader George Papandreou’s decision to nominate lawyer Gulbeyaz Karahasan as the party’s candidate for Xanthi-Kavala-Drama Prefect came as a surprise not only to Karahasan herself and to the party – whose cadres should have known that the fanfare over «participatory democracy» was destined from the outset for the Internet and not the political arena proper – but it also astonished the wider public. Those surprised mainly were in the south, who for decades were either not aware of (or did not consider important) the bar of discrimination that until 1997 was in place to divide Greeks from Greeks, the «pure» from the «suspect.» The move also came as a surprise to political and religious leaders used to behaving as the exclusive agents of authentic «Greekness» and the only ones able to judge who is and who isn’t Greek. So we heard Macedonia-Thrace Minister Giorgos Kalantzis asking Karahasan to confirm that she had indeed been born in Greece to Greek parents, had studied in Greece, and so on. Then former PASOK minister Stelios Papathemelis, now an independent deputy, expressed the view that the candidate was being primed by the Turkish Consulate in Xanthi. Thessaloniki Bishop Anthimos, meanwhile, said on television (and only then in his Sunday sermon) that while it was none of his business, he was nevertheless concerned. Theoretically, Christianity is an ecumenical faith that does not heed national or ethnic boundaries, but that has not yet convinced those who preach its gospels. Those who doubt Karahasan’s Greek identity forget that she is a Pomak, a minority within a minority, a people who, according to «nationally correct» documentation, are descended from the ancient Thracians. The critics are shifting the goalposts again.