Death threats haunt Greek champion of Macedonians: In the first of two articles on the region, Leonard Doyle describes Athens' drive against ethnic Slavs

A GREEK scholar who described the existence of a Slavic-speaking Macedonian community inside Greece in her American university thesis and other publications, has received death threats for challenging the government line. This denies the existence of the minority.

Athens protests that there is no Macedonian minority within its borders. The government fears the Slavic-Macedonian community in Greece, which numbers between 50,000 and 300,000, depending on who is counting, could seek political links with ethnic kin in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Greece is so concerned with the growth of Slavic-Macedonian consciousness that it recently introduced an economic blockade on its neighbour. Athens claims the exclusive right to the name Macedonia, and claims that it has been usurped by Slavic speakers from the former Yugoslavia.

The threats against Anastasia Karakasidou, 38, escalated last week when Stohos, an extreme right-wing Greek newspaper, published her address in Salonika. The newspaper also provided details of the car she uses while researching Macedonian-speaking villages in the northern Greece. Ms Karakasidou does not believe that the government is behind the death threats, but feels that the threats are the work of nationalist extremists.

So as not to stir controversy over the Macedonian debate in Greece, she decided not to publish her dissertation, Fields of Wheat, Hills of Shrubs, Agrarian Development and Nation Building in Northern Greece.

Greek newspapers got their hands on the manuscript anyway. Since then, Ms Karakasidou, the mother of two young children, has been mercilessly hounded by sections of the Greek media and by the Greek-American community in the United States.

She received a veiled death threat from a Greek-American newspaper in February, when it published an article describing a possible scenario for her death. It described an attack by a group of men, one of whom pushed a stick painted in the colours of the Greek flag into her heart, killing her as a traitor. It is thought that the veiled death threats were designed to frighten her away from academic research. In the US, Greek nationalists unsuccessfully lobbied to prevent Ms Karakasidou being given an assistant professorship at the City University of New York. In Salonika the secret police have ostentatiously visited her elderly mother.

The Greek Macedonian community refuses to go away, despite attempts to deny its existence. Efforts to stamp out use of the Macedonian language, by refusing to open Macedonian schools or allow the publication of newspapers in the language, have failed.

The government has changed the names of hundreds of Macedonian villages into Greek-sounding names. The closest it comes to recognising the community is to call them 'Slavophone Greeks' or 'bilinguals.'

Ethnic Macedonians say that they are a people of Slavic descent, who speak Macedonian, and have a culture and customs which differ from the Greek majority.

The geographic region of Macedonia is divided among Bulgaria, Greece and the newly independent country of Macedonia. According to anthropologists, the Greek portion has two distinct groups - the ethnic Macedonians who settled around the sixth century - and the Greeks, many of whom are descendants of refugees from Asia Minor, who arrived during the 1920s.

The population of Greek Macedonia has changed since the Balkan wars, when thousands of Macedonians left for Bulgaria. Many more left as political refugees during the 1946-49 Greek civil war. Since then, those who consider themselves Macedonian - even though born in Greece - have not been allowed back.

Tomorrow: Political trials in Greek Macedonia

(Map omitted)

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
football
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
News
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
i100
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Travel
travel
Life and Style
The veteran poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldof issues a stark challenge to emerging economies at the Melbourne HIV/Aids conference
health
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich talk Penguins of Madagascar at Comic-Con
comic-con 2014Cumberbatch fans banned from asking about Sherlock at Comic-Con
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
filmGuardians Of The Galaxy should have taken itself a bit more seriously, writes Geoffrey Macnab
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Digital Content Officer - Central London - £33,000

£28000 - £33000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive (Digital Marketi...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform