The Turks of the Western Thrace region will elect their new religious leader, mufti, at the mosques in Xanthi on Sept. 9, amid the ongoing pressure of the Greek government for over 30 years.
Based on the Treaty of Lausanne signed on July 24, 1923, giving the right to elect their own mufti in Komotini and Xanthi in Western Thrace, the Turkish minority, who don’t recognize the muftis appointed by the government, will elect their own mufti.
However, as Greece does not officially accept the mufti election organized by the Turks, ballot box will not be installed. The election, in which candidates Mustafa Trampa and Mustafa Kamu will compete, will be held in mosques on Sept. 9 by raising hands.
In 1990, the Turkish minority elected İbrahim Şerif as the mufti of Komotini and Mehmet Emin Aga in Xanthi.
After Aga’s death, Ahmet Mete took over the post in 2006. The Greek government, on the other hand, didn’t recognize the elected muftis and continued to appoint new muftis.
Following Mete’s death in July, the mufti case came to the agenda in Xanthi once more and a new law regarding the functioning of the muftis was submitted to the Greek Parliament in the capital Athens as a draft by the government on July 22.
Following the approval of the regulation, the Western Thrace Turkish Minority Advisory Board decried the decision.
“The Lausanne Peace Treaty, which determines the principles regarding the mufti institution in Western Thrace and guarantees the religious autonomy of the Muslim Turkish minority, was ignored with the regulation accepted in the Assembly.”
Any regulation that ignores the democratic demands, sincere expectations and rights of the Western Thrace Muslim Turkish community is unlawful and doomed to be ignored, the board said.
Greece took action against the Turkish minority’s rights to elect their mufti and targeted minority members, the Foreign Ministry also tweeted on Sept. 5
“We expect Greece to respect the rights of the Western Thrace Turkish Minority to elect their own religious leaders, which is guaranteed by international agreements, especially the Lausanne Peace Treaty, and to end its pressures in this context,” it said.
Türkiye has long decried Greek violations of the rights of its Muslim and Turkish minority, from the closing down of mosques and letting historic mosques fall into disrepair to refusing to allow local groups to use “Turkish” in their name.
This legal regulation, which was prepared without consultation with the representatives of the Western Thrace Turkish minority, once again ignored the will and freedom of religion of the minority’s elected muftis and thus the Western Thrace Turkish minority, the ministry said earlier in a written statement.
The minister recalled that Article 40 of the Lausanne Peace Treaty grants the Turkish minority the right to establish, manage and control their own religious, educational and charitable and social institutions.
“The violation of this right by Greece against its contractual obligations has also been registered with the decisions of the ECHR in the past,” it said.
While Greece should provide the Western Thrace Turkish minority with the necessary support and ease in electing, administering and structuring its mufti, it is “unacceptable that it tries to bring the mufti under its rule against the will” of the minority, Ankara said.
Hurriyet Daily News