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Interventions continue against the religious rights01 September 2018

The Government that has been taking advantage of the expressions “Consultation and dialogue” with the minority so far, kept its course about the issue of the muftis (as religious establishments of the Turkish Muslim Minority) in order to violate the rights of the Turkish Minority in Western Thrace.

By Cengiz Ömer

The Government invited to participate in the "dialogue and consultation" process for the regulation entitled "The rules of the procedural law about the authorities of the mufti, the establishment of the administrative unit, organization, working procedures about the mufti’s authorities in his department.", which was arranged by the General Secretariat of Religious Affairs and the General Secretarial of Human Rights and Transparency found.

This time, The Government made a motion for a consultation that would bring a new working system to the Muftis. The consultation and dialogue period for the presidential decree on the mufti announced on Tuesday, August 28, 2018, ends at 12:00 on Friday, September 7, 2018.

The prepared decree contains details of the procedures and laws concerning marriage, divorce and family law in mufti’s authority on making decisions. The draft also includes the principles for the staff to be established in the three Departments of Muftis in Western Thrace and the organization and working system of the "Bureau of the Authorities of the Ministry of Muftis” to be formed in the Departments.

The solution is to get hands off from the religious structure of the minority

Even though the call for participation in the process of "consultation and dialogue" with the current regulation is made it is obvious that the government will actually do everything according to its own plan despite the minority. This is because the minority’s thought is that The Government must withdraw completely from the muftis and waqfs, which are the religious institutions that the state confiscates on the contrary of Islamic belief and human rights, and to deliver these institutions which are private and autonomous to the minority. The same state does not have the slightest authority of intervention to the institutional functioning of the Christian Orthodox Church, which prevails in the country according to the present law.

According to the minority society, the state’s call for consultation and dialogue is a trick. Because if the state were to offer a solution with genuinely sincere dialogue and tact, then it would have to pay attention to the minority before taking such a step from the beginning.

In developed democracies, the state does not intervene with minorities’ religion

In developed democracies, the state does not intervene in the religious structure of the citizens of different religions. Each religious community is responsible for its own religious functioning and institutional structure and it is completely autonomous in this respect. For example, in the Republic of Montenegro, the Islamic Society is organized under the name of the Islamic Union and acts constitutionally completely independent. The religious functioning, institutional structure of the Islamic society, the muftis and waqfs are not exposed to any intervention by the state. In fact, according to the information provided by the President of the Islamic Union of Montenegro Rifat Feyzic, the Islamic Union has its own constitution and parliament. According to this structure, the representatives set by all the Muslims in the country gather in this parliament and take decisions by consultation in matters concerning religious life and functioning.

“For you is your religion, and for me is my religion”

When it is considered with some samples in the world and Islam, it can be said that if a "consultation and dialogue" process is going to take place, it should be treated as a process that the minority society will operate in itself, not as a bargain between the minority and the state. Accordingly, minority communities will gather to consult and will directly manage the mufti and waqfs directly with those whom they will set by themselves. Only in this way can be solved by the totally state-based problem. Otherwise, any attempt will not be a realistic and permanent solution. The Qur'an reveals the solution in this matter in verse 6 of Surat al-Kafirun: “For you is your religion, and for me is my religion”. Accordingly, every religion, its institutional structure, and functioning belong entirely to that religious community. Those who are members of other religions never involved in them.

This shows that solutions that will be followed in against the Qur'an's principles and human rights will never bring peace to the Muslim-Turkish Minority in Western Thrace.

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