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WESTERN THRACE: Minority school students resist against the appointed Muslim cleric13 September 2019

As it is known the minority does not accept the muftis appointed by the state but elect their own muftis (Muslim clerics) according to international treaties. In this framework, the appointed mufti regent was invited to the opening of the new school year in Medrese-i Hayriye High School (a high school focused on religious affairs) by the assistant manager of the school without informing neither the teachers nor the students.

Recently appointed mufti regent by the Greek state, Halil is trying to impose his authority on the Turkish minority.

In this occasion, the students gathered and set a wall in the entrance of the school with an intention to prevent the mufti regent to enter the school. Mufti regent claimed that there is no need for the invitation because he is an officer of the state, however, the students insisted that this matter is violence.

After a while, the mufti regent was entered through the back gate. However, the mufti regent and his helpers succeeded nothing as the students left the school this time. Yet the opening ceremony was held with the attendance of the mufti regent without any student.

The background that led to a protest

The protest against the appointed mufti is not a suddenly emerged process. When we look at the background we can see some problems dating back to the regulation of the new curriculum which consists of the systematic decrease in the number of the Turkish lessons in comparison with the Greek lessons.

Due to this case, last year action was held by the parents with an aim to protest this regulation. This regulation was evaluated as a violence of the rights according to the Treaty of Lausanne. “The Medreses were set in the same status as the other minority high schools are, thus the regulation cannot be accepted,” said the parents. In public opinion, it was strongly argued that it is violence both of the Treaty of Lausanne and universal human rights.

Western Thrace region of Greece is home to a Muslim-Turkish minority numbering around 150,000 people.

According to the statements of the minority NGOs and experts, the state takes one-sided decisions against international law without setting a dialogue with minority members with a justification of national security.

The carelessness for the minority opinion and the intimidation policy led to a resistance protest against the appointed mufti which the appointment system was brought in the early 90s in the place of the democratically electing system, which is also a right given by the Treaty of Athens in 1913, Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 and International Law.

The minority has the right to elect its own muftis according to international treaties, however, the Greek state does not recognize this and appoints the muftis itself.

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