Strange kind of religious fervour

Aristide Caratzas's letter (11 September) misses the point that Helena Smith was making ("The ayatollah replaces Zorba", 21 August) - namely, that the attitudes and actions of the Greek Orthodox Church are worsening an already fragile climate of tolerance within Greece.

The government, by its decision to strike religion from identity cards, is taking a significant step towards making Greece less xenophobic, something which should be welcomed given that, in today's Greece, it is still acceptable for job advertisements to specify a person's sex, age, nationality and even their physical appearance. Similarly, advertisements for property rentals can state "no foreigners".

During the recent demonstrations against the government's decision, initiated by the Church, banners with anti-Semitic slogans were on prominent display.

One bishop has accused the prime minister, Kostas Simitis, of taking his orders from "Freemasons and American Jews" and called upon the faithful to "take up sticks and stones in protest". The media is dubbing the crisis as the beginning of a holy war.

S Cromack
Athens, Greece

This article first appeared in the 25 September 2000 issue of the New Statesman, Women: still firmly in their place