ABTTF President: ‘We want to have a direct dialogue with the rulers of our country with the parallel report in which we detail our problems related to our religious autonomy’.
The Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF) prepared a parallel report with the aim of responding to the issues pertaining to the Turkish community in Western Thrace which were included in the ‘Report on Incidents Against Places of Religious Importance in Greece’ published by the Greek Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs on 30 December 2020 and sent it to Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou and Greek Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs Niki Kerameus.
In its parallel report, ABTTF detailed the problems encountered by the Turkish community in Western Thrace, which has religious autonomy in accordance with bilateral and international treaties and expressed its views and demands.
ABTTF criticised the unilateral portrayal of issues related to the Turkish community in Western Thrace in the Ministry's report which only reflected the official state approach, adding that the religious autonomy and rights of the Turkish community in Western Thrace were ignored, and that the information and explanations in the report did not address the current problems of the Turkish community in Western Thrace.
ABTTF stated that in contradiction to its autonomous structure in the religious sphere, the Turkish community in Western Thrace was stripped of its right to choose its Muftis which are its own religious leaders, and stated that the office of the Mufti in Western Thrace, which is autonomous, was restructured by the Presidential Decree dated 52/2019 and reduced to a public institution with the status of general manager of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs. ABTTF further noted that the decree violates the autonomous status and rights of the Turkish community in Western Thrace along with its religious freedom which is guaranteed by the treaties, including international treaties, legal documents and principles.
Regarding the repair, construction and protection of mosques in Western Thrace within the scope of cultural heritage, ABTTF stated that the report which alleges that the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs has met all the demands for the repair and renovation of old mosques and the construction of new mosques does not reflect the reality, and that there is no mention of bureaucratic and other obstacles in the construction and repair of mosques, and cited the fact that the terrain of the Poşpoş Tekke, which was demolished by the Municipality of Komotini in 1989, has not yet been granted construction permits. ABTTF also noted that the Turkish community in Western Thrace expects the restoration of the Çelebi Sultan Mehmet Mosque in Didymoteicho, which was badly damaged by a fire on 22 March 2017, to be carried out meticulously, restoring the mosque immediately and preserving it for future generations as part of its architectural heritage.
Regarding Rhodes and Kos, which are listed in the Ministry's report under the heading Muslims outside Western Thrace, ABTTF informed about the Turkish community in Rhodes and Kos and conveyed the problems related to charitable foundations, i.e. vakfs belonging to the Turkish community on the islands. ABTTF stated that Defterdar Ibrahim Efendi and Germe Mosques in Kos, which were severely damaged in the July 2017 earthquake, have not been repaired, so there are no mosques open for worship in Kos today.
Halit Habip Oğlu, President of the Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF) made the following statement: ‘After our first parallel report last year, ABTTF prepared a parallel report on the report of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs on important incidents in religious areas our country Greece and expressed the views and demands of the Turkish community in Western Thrace. In our report, we demanded that our country respect our religious autonomy and restore our right to choose our muftis. We want to have a direct dialogue with the rulers of our country with the parallel report in which we detail our problems related to our religious autonomy’
Please click here for the full text of the ‘2019 Report on Incidents Against Places of Religious Importance in Greece’: