World, Europe

Greece sentences elected Muslim official to 15 months in prison

Ahmet Mete's lawyers vow to appeal decision, which seems to target local Turkish minority's right to elect their own muftis

Mehmet Hatipoglu  | 17.06.2021 - Update : 17.06.2021
Greece sentences elected Muslim official to 15 months in prison


In another apparent attempt to suppress Greece’s ethnic Turkish minority, a Greek court on Thursday sentenced the elected mufti (Muslim official) of Xanthi to 15 months in prison.

A criminal court in Thessaloniki sentenced Ahmet Mete to the time in prison, with a three-year deferment of the sentence, over allegedly "disrupting public order by sowing public discord."

Under the judge’s decision, Mete will go to prison to fulfill his sentence if he commits a crime within the next three years.

Telling how Mete objects to the ruling, a statement released by the Xanthi mufti's office said the decision will be appealed through his lawyers.

Xanthi (Iskece) is part of Greece’s Western Thrace region, which has a population of 150,000 Muslim Turks dating back centuries.

The election of muftis, or Islamic clerics, by Muslims in Greece is regulated by the 1913 Treaty of Athens, a Greek-Ottoman Empire pact which was implemented by Athens in 1920.

But in 1991, in violation of international law, Greece annulled its law regarding the 1913 treaty and unlawfully started to appoint the muftis itself.

The muftis appointed by the Greek state have since usurped local Muslims’ right of jurisdiction on family and inheritance matters.

Most Muslim Turks in Western Thrace do not recognize muftis appointed by the Greek state and instead rightfully elect their muftis.

However, since 1991 the Greek state has refused to recognize elected muftis, and authorities have even put clerics on trial.

Turkey has long decried Greek violations of the rights of its Muslim and Turkish minority, from closing down mosques and letting historic mosques fall into disrepair, to refusing to allow local groups to use the word “Turkish” in their name.

These measures violate the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne as well as European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) verdicts, making Greece a state that flouts the law, say Turkish officials.

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