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Intervention in freedom of religion01 September 2018

In the early of 80s, The Muslim-Turkish minority faced with a problem in the field of religion. Even though it was clearly stated in the Treaty of Athens that the Muslim-Turkish minority is free to elect their Mufti by themselves. However, the Greek State promulgated a Presidental Decree that violates the Treaty of Athens. From that time on the Muftis are assigned by the Government. Yet, the minority still elects the muftis democratically even if they are ignored by the Greek State.

When it is talked about an ignorance it should not be understood as an innocent ignorance. The ignorance of the muftis led to subject trials and prison sentences. There is a common sample of the formerly elected mufti of Xanthi who was imprisoned several times, just because he was elected, but not assigned. Another sample was the elected Mufti of Komotini (Gümülcine) who was imprisoned for the same reason.

Despite the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights that the Greek State has violated the freedom of thought, conscience and religion, the current muftis of Komotini (Gümülcine) and Xanthi (İskeçe)are not recognized yet. Moreover, they are frequently subjected to trials.

The latest intervention in freedom of religion is the law of ‘240 imams’ which was put in effect in 2013, although it was strictly rejected by the Turkish Minority. According to this law, there will be 240 imams assigned by The Government who will have the authority to make decisions about the minority’s religious matters.

Now, there is an expectation and hope that the election of muftis will become legal, as the Turkish State makes pressure. Lately, there emerged some news related to this topic. Yet, another irritating rumor is that if the law of election is put in effect the muftis will be elected by the 240 imams –who are rejected by the minority- but now by the minority.

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