Halit Habip Oğlu: “As the Turkish community in Western Thrace, it is not possible for us to accept the recent presidential decree prepared und put into force by the Greek state without taking into consideration our demands which harbors the intention to take away our mufti offices!”
The presidential decree, which envisages the restructuring of the mufti offices in Komotini, Xanthi and Didymoticho in Western Thrace region of Greece, was adopted and entered into force on 11 June 2019. With the decree No. 52/2019, the mufti offices of the Turkish community in Western Thrace are completely affiliated to the Greek Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs and transformed into an ordinary government office. The decree consisted of 26 articles, envisages the appointment of the personnel to be employed at the mufti offices by the ministry and quite limits the muftis’ powers.
Regarding the issue, Halit Habip Oğlu, President of the Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF) said: “Our country Greece, which has not been recognizing the muftis we have elected for years, has done what it always does regarding the issues directly related to the Turkish community in Western Thrace and has enacted the presidential decree without consulting with us which includes regulations pertinent to our muftis. The Presidential Decree No. 52/2019, which affiliates our mufti offices to the Greek Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs, is contrary to the 1923 Lausanne Peace Treaty which guarantees the right of the Turkish community in Western Thrace to establish and manage its religious institutions as well as to the international law documents on freedom of religion. With the recent presidential decree which transforms our mufti offices into an ordinary government office and aims to turn our muftis into a puppet of the Greek state by taking away their powers, the religious autonomy of the Turkish community in Western Thrace guaranteed by international treaties has been completely abolished and its religious freedom has been openly violated. As the Turkish community in Western Thrace, it is not possible for us to accept this decree prepared and put into force without taking into consideration our demands which harbors the intention to take away our mufti offices. The Turkish community in Western Thrace is determined to act in unity and solidarity with its all institutions and organizations against this decree within the framework of democracy and law.”