Western Thrace Turks slam Greece 'Imams Law'

While the Greek government maintains a position for a head Mufti, the Western Thrace Turks do not accept the government selected official and instead elect their own representatives who are not recognized by the state.

Western Thrace Turks slam Greece 'Imams Law'

World Bulletin / News Desk

Muslim Turks in Greece have expressed their anxiety over a law that was originally drawn up in 2007 but has not been implemented until now, after the '240 Imams Law' was activited following a legal review.

Greece last year insisted that the regulation would enable students from the minority of ethnic Turks who attend public schools to learn the about their religion and the Qur'an from certified Muslim scholars (Ierodidaskalos), who will be selected by a five-member Committee, which is to be composed of one appointed Mufti, one reputable Muslim academic and one Muslim theologian.

However, the Turkish minorty, which is mainly based in the Western Thrace region, reacted negatively to this new law, claiming that in infringes on international laws protecting religious freedom. Turkish religious and political leaders in Greece said that the law was introduced without their approval and implemented in spite of their opposition.

The elected Mufti of the mainly Turkish city of Gumulcine (Komotini) Ibrahim Serif said the law has 'deeply shaken' the minority community as it was drawn up without consulting them.

'They want us to put on a costume that was prepared without our request or wishes. This is the same as interfering with our mosques. For this reason our community is upset and does not accept this implementation,' he said.

He also noted that a number of names listed by the committee to work as 'certified' religious teachers are actually unqualified and have no relevance to Islamic education and sciences. He also said that minority member students in public schools were being pressured to join the classes against their will.

CALL FOR GENUINE DIALOGUE

The head of the Association of Mosque Staff in Western Thrace, Ahmet Saricali, also put forward the same concerns, and said that this problem would only be solved once the Greek authorities decided to recognize the community-elected religious representatives of the Western Thrace Turks.

While the Greek government maintains a position for a head Mufti, the Western Thrace Turks do not accept the government selected official and instead elect their own representatives who are not recognized by the state.

Mustafa Ali Cavus, a Turkish member of the Equality and Peace Party, said that the entire community of Western Thrace Turks stand against the new bill, and called on the Greek authorities to stop making laws according to their own whims and instead start engaging in a genuine dialogue with the Turkish minority. He also added that all the Western Thrace Turks wanted was that the agreements in the Treaty of Lausanne be respected.

So far, the Greek authorities have enlisted 87 individuals to work as religious teachers at primary schools in the Western Thrace districts of Iskece (Xanthi), Gumulcine (Komotini) and Meric (Evros). 

Last Mod: 04 Nisan 2014, 16:27
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