Expulsion of Muslims from Crete

Expulsion of Muslims from Crete

Date: 1923
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In 1923, 30,000 Muslims were expelled from Crete. The previous year had seen "The Greek Catastrophe", wherein 30,000 ethnic Greeks were killed, and as many as 600,000 expelled from the city of Smyrna (now Izmir), on the western coast of Turkey. Close to 30,000 of these refugees made their way to - and settled on - Crete. The following year, the treaty of Lausanne - signed by both Greece and Turkey - stipulated new boundaries for the two nations and, what today, we would call "ethnic cleansing" (then it was "population exchange"!) between the respective Muslim and Christian minorities of the two countries. Only two places escaped this enforced expulsion: Western Thrace (approximately 150,000 Muslims still live in this corner of Greece) and Constantinople (Istanbul; where fewer than 2,000, of the quarter of a million Orthodox Christians permitted to remain after the Lausanne treaty, live today). Greece's population during this crisis, rose by an astonishing one third (from c.4.5 million to c.six million). Turkey's, meanwhile, fell by around 8% (from c.15 million to c.13.8 million).
In 67 bc the island was conquered by the Romans. In 395 it passed to the Byzantine Empire. The island fell to the Arabs in 826 and remained under their rule until 961, when it was reconquered by Nicephorus Phocas, later Byzantine emperor. Following the Fourth Crusade Crete was sold (1204) to the Venetians. In 1645 the Ottoman Empire began military operations in Crete against the Venetians, completing conquest of most of the island in 1669 and acquiring complete control in 1715. Cretan revolts against Turkish rule subsequently occurred, notably during the Greek Revolution (1821-1824), but the Turks held control of the island until 1830. In that year, by agreement of the European powers, it was ceded to Egypt, which in 1840 returned control of Crete to Turkey. Thereafter, friction between the Christian and Muslim sections of the population resulted in successive rebellions by the Christians, culminating in the revolt of 1896. The following year Greek forces intervened on behalf of the revolutionaries. The ensuing war between Greece and Turkey was terminated in 1898 by the European powers that undertook to administer the island through an international commission headed by Prince George of Greece. Although popular unrest forced his resignation in 1906, and despite insistent Cretan demands for annexation to Greece, Crete remained under international control until 1912. A Cretan uprising in March 1912 resulted in the establishment of an independent provisional government, the delegates of which were formally installed in the Greek parliament in the following October. By the terms of the Treaty of London (May 31, 1913), which ended the ensuing war between Greece (supported by Balkan allies) and Turkey, Crete was ceded to Greece.

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