Greece suppresses fundamental rights of Turkish minority in Western Thrace: Mufti

Anadolu Agency speaks to Ahmet Mete, elected mufti of Xanthi in Western Thrace region of Greece

Tevfik Durul   | 19.10.2021
Greece suppresses fundamental rights of Turkish minority in Western Thrace: Mufti

XANTHI, Greece

Greek authorities suppress the fundamental rights and freedoms of the Muslim Turkish minority in Western Thrace, the elected mufti (Muslim scholar and legal expert) of Xanthi (Iskece) has said.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Ahmet Mete said the heads of the Muslim Turkish minority in Western Thrace are “threatened and insulted.”

Noting that the mufti institution in Western Thrace was regulated by the principles in the Treaty of Lausanne, he said the Greek authorities did not give the rights to the minority group it was entrusted to.

The appointment of muftis by Greek authorities weaken the position of muftis in Western Thrace, he said, adding that a man with a primary school degree was appointed to the position in Xanthi.

Mete said the Islamic clerics have an important role for the unity and solidarity of the minority in the region, adding that they will continue their “rightful struggle" against moves that divide the society.

Mete and his predecessor Mehmet Emin Aga have previously been convicted by Greek courts for usurping authority.

The Western Thrace region of Greece is home to a Muslim Turkish minority of around 150,000 people, where muftis have legal jurisdiction to decide on the family and inheritance matters in the local community.

The issue of mufti elections has been a long-standing problem for the group since 1991.

The election of muftis by Muslims in Greece was regulated in the 1913 Treaty of Athens with the Ottoman Empire and was later included in Greek law. Greece, however, annulled the law in 1991 and started appointing muftis itself.

The majority of Muslim Turks in the cities of Komotini and Xanthi do not recognize the appointed muftis and instead elect their own, who are not recognized by the Greek state.

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