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Greece: Students protest state-appointed Muslim cleric13 September 2019

Students of Turkish minority school in Komotini prevent entrance of Greek-appointed mufti to school

Students in a high school of Greece’s Turkish minority prevented the entrance of a Greek-appointed mufti (Muslim cleric) by calling him an “unwanted” person, according to local media.

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

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.

Xanthi-based Millet newspaper reported that Greek-appointed mufti of Komotini, Cihat Halil, tried to enter Medrese-i Hayriye, a minority secondary-high school, on Wednesday, in order to attend the opening ceremony of the 2019-2020 school year.

However, the students built a human barrier at the entrance of the school to bar the entrance of Halil.

In a video shared at the Facebook account of Millet over the incident, Halil tried to convince the students but the students response was “We do not want you”.

Then, Halil used the backdoor to enter the school.

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

Continuing their protests, nearly all of the students went out of the school and refused to attend the opening ceremony. There were only 15 students attending the ceremony.

The election of muftis by Muslims in Greece is regulated by the 1913 Treaty of Athens, a Greek-Ottoman Empire pact which was implemented by Athens in 1920.

But in 1991, in violation of international law, Greece annulled its law implementing the 1913 treaty, and unlawfully started to appoint the muftis itself.

The muftis appointed by the Greek state have since usurped local Muslims’ right of jurisdiction over family and inheritance matters.

The majority of Muslim Turks in Western Thrace do not recognize the muftis appointed by the Greek state and instead rightfully elect their own muftis.

However, since 1991 the Greek state has refused to recognize these elected muftis, and Greek authorities have even put the clerics on trial.

Fatih Hafiz Mehmet | AA

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