ANKARA (AA) – Greece must end its interventionist practices and lobbying policies against Muslim religious leaders elected by the Turkish minority in Western Thrace, Turkey’s Foreign Minister said on Saturday.
Mevlut Cavusoglu’s statement was shared on social media after Ibrahim Serif, chairman of the Turkish Minority Advisory Council in Western Thrace and elected mufti of Komotini, shared a post on “Twitter” indicating that he would be tried. for alleged “usurpation of office” during a religious ceremony he attended five years ago.
Denouncing the recent decision of the Greek court, the head of Turkish diplomacy expressed his country’s support for the Turks in Greece in protecting “their rights under the Treaty of Lausanne and religious freedoms”.
For several centuries, a community of 150,000 Muslim Turks has lived in the region of Xanthi in Western Thrace (Greece).
The election of muftis, or Muslim clerics, by the Muslims of Greece is governed by the Treaty of Athens of November 14, 1913, an agreement between the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Greece, implemented by Athens from 1920 .
But in 1991, in violation of international law, Greece quashed its law implementing the 1913 treaty and illegally began appointing muftis, who should be elected by the community.
The muftis appointed by the Greek state usurp, since that date, the rights of jurisdiction of the Muslims, in particular in matters of family and inheritance.
The majority of Muslim Turks in Western Thrace do not recognize Greek state appointed muftis and rightly elect their own muftis.
However, for three decades the Greek state has refused to recognize elected muftis and the country’s judicial authorities have even brought Muslim clerics to justice.
Turkey has long denounced Greek violations of the rights of the Muslim and Turkish minority, ranging from the closure of mosques and the decay of historic monuments not being maintained, to refusal to allow local groups to use the term ” Turkish ”in their denomination.
These measures violate the Lausanne Treaty of 1923, as well as the verdicts of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), making Greece a state that has violated international law for thirty years.
* Translated from English by Ümit Dönmez
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