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President´s Column - 19.09.2018

Greece in pursuit of creating virtual reality, implements its scenario step by step!

Dear readers,

Administrators of our country have finally made a step to solve the long-term dilemma of Mufti Offices.

Kostas Gavroğlu, Greek Minister of Education and Religious Affairs, stated that “In the past minorities were subjected to outrageous policies, oppression and unacceptable laws. Therefore, they do not trust the government” and hence explained the government’s intention to solve the Mufti question step by step within a respectful policy towards the Turkish community in Western Thrace.

And our Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has given us hope by saying that “We want to reach a point where religious leaders recognized by the Greek government is not questioned by the minority”.

However, as I have been telling for years, our country prepared the scenario about Mufti Offices many years ago, by implementing the “240 Imam Law” it started shooting the film saying “action”. Firstly, our country through the 240 Imam Law appointed people under the name of religious teacher among whom many of them lack the necessary qualifications to teach Islam so that our children receive religious education, Islam by them in Greek language at public schools. Afterwards, our country made these people establish an association with the name “Association of Holly Teachers of Islam” therefore it tried to strengthen the artificial image that it has already tried to create in this field by making this association organize various activities

Our country, in line with this scenario, held a panel in February in Komotini with the title “Mufti Offices and Sharia in Thrace”. Muftis appointed by the state and General Secretary of Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs also participated in the event organized by Holly Teachers of Islam. Hence our country has sought to create an image where it would look like that it had discussed the issue of Muftis together with the representatives of the Turkish community in Western Thrace.

Furthermore, in order to get rid of the appointed muftis which our country assigned itself, it used the age limit as justification. The government by the law it enacted in August obliged the appointed muftis in Xanthi and Komotini to be retired on the grounds of age limit.

Thereby, the government in order to find a solution for Mufti question as it liked in line with its scenario, appointed mufti regents in Xanthi and Komotini.


By the draft Presidential decree, laws and procedures and details regarding the decisions to be taken by the appointed muftis related to marriage, divorce, family law have been regulated.

And that was not enough, the functioning of Mufti Offices was completely taken under control of the state through the departments to be established under the name “Bureau of Mufti’s Mandates”.

However, this time, with the aim of eliminating the complaints about the fact that the Turkish community in Western Thrace were not consulted on this matter, the government introduced a process of consultation through which recommendations and comments could be provided on the internet by the 7th of September.

In other words, our country remained to create its own reality instead of the bare fact!

Well, what does the Turkish community in Western Thrace community actually think?

Our lawyers, MPs, representatives of civil society organizations who are members of Western Thrace Turkish community, declared a statement and they say with one voice that this draft decree cannot be accepted. Because, the autonomy of the Mufti Offices is completely eradicated through this decree therefore Mufti Offices are transformed into governmental offices!

We were not the only ones who said this decree is unacceptable! A lawyer said so as well! And that was a Greek lawyer!

Associate Professor Yannis Ktistakis, working at Thrace Dimokritos University Faculty of Law, stated that there is no religious community other than Western Thrace Turkish community in Greece where the state elects the administration directly or indirectly!

As Ktistakis mentioned, in Greece, including Orthodox Greeks, Orthodox Armenians, Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Jehovah’s Witnesses none of the religious communities’ affairs are interfered and it is acted in line with the principle of autonomy of religious internal affairs. However, when the issue is about Muslim Western Thrace Turkish community, the government acts as if the Mufti Offices are its own governmental offices!

This situation is barely and clearly against the freedom of religion and belief!

This intervention made against the freedom of religion of the Turkish community in Western Thrace means the violation of the Article 13 of Greek Constitution. This is also against all human rights conventions and documents including UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UN Civil and Political Rights Convention, UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, European Convention on Human Rights, OSCE Helsinki Final Act and EU Charter of Fundamental Rights!

While the reality is all explicit our country insists on creating a virtual reality!

But, one cannot hide the truth!

If governors of our country would really like to solve the Mufti question respecting the Turkish community in Western Thrace, there is only one thing it should do!

That is to sit at the table together with us!

First with sincerity then within the framework of mutual understanding and dialogue, the objective should be looking for a solution together by considering wishes and interests of the Turkish community in Western Thrace!

This is all!


Halit Habip Oğlu
ABTTF President

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