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16.11.2017 19:28 News >> Turkey Criticizes Greece For Convicting Muslim Clerics

Turkey Criticizes Greece For Convicting Muslim Clerics

Two clerics given suspended jail terms for disturbing religious ceremony, usurping authority.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag on Thursday slammed Greece over the recent conviction of two Muslim clerics.

The elected mufti of the city of Xanthi (Iskece) in northern Greece, Ahmet Mete and the imam of the nearby village of Glafki (Gokcepinar), Erkan Azizoglu were sentenced to seven months in prison by a court in Thessaloniki on Monday for disturbing a religious ceremony and usurping authority.

Mete and Azizoglu were convicted over an incident at the funeral ceremony of a conscript soldier last year, who was a member of the Muslim Turkish minority and lost his life in a swimming accident while on duty.

Mete took over the prayer service from the state-appointed mufti of Xanthi.

Speaking at an event in Istanbul, Bekir Bozdag slammed Greece for not letting a Muslim be buried in accordance with his religious beliefs, and by a mufti elected by the local community instead of one appointed by the state.

He said this was against the Lausanne Treaty. "Where is freedom of religion and conscience?" he asked.

The two clerics' prison sentences have been suspended, and they could be jailed if they commit another crime in three years.

The election of muftis by the Muslims in Greece was included in the 1913 Treaty of Athens between Greece and the Ottoman Empire and was included in Greek Act 2345/1920. However, Greece annulled this law in 1990 and started appointing the muftis itself.

The majority of Muslim Turks in Komotini (Gumulcine) and Xanthi cities do not recognize the appointed muftis and elect their own instead, who are not recognized by the Greek state.

As a result, there are two muftis in each city, one appointed by the state and one elected by the local community.

Greece's Western Thrace region is home to around 145,000 Muslim Turks. -



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