Greek court ‘shelves’ prison term of Mufti of Komotini, Western Thrace

By Tevfik Durul and Derya Gulnaz Ozcan


ATHENS (AA): A Greek court on Thursday “shelved” the prison term of a religious leader from the country’s Muslim-Turkish community.

The 80-day prison sentence given by the lower court in northern port city of Thessaloniki was suspended on Oct. 21 by the Court of Appeals, said Ibrahim Serif, the elected mufti of Komotini (Gumulcine) in northeastern Greece, on Twitter.

Serif was charged in March 2018 by Greek authorities with “usurping office” of the country’s mufti – a Muslim legal expert with the authority to issue religious rulings – for a religious ceremony he attended in 2016.

Serif’s lawyer, Ercan Ahmet, told Anadolu Agency that the prosecutor’s suggestion has resulted in the case file being “shelved.”

Serif was elected mufti of Komotini in 1990 by the local Muslim-Turkish community.

Ahmet Mete, the current Mufti of Xanthi (Iskece), and his predecessor Mehmet Emin Aga had also previously been convicted by Greek courts on the same charges.

The Western Thrace region of Greece is home to a Muslim-Turkish minority of around 150,000 people, where muftis have legal jurisdiction over family and inheritance matters in the local community.

Since 1991, the mufti election has been a vexing issue in the country.

The election of muftis by Muslims in Greece was regulated in the 1913 Treaty of Athens with the Ottoman Empire and was later included in Greek law.

However, Greece annulled this law in 1991 and started appointing muftis itself.

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

* Writing by Gozde Bayar

[Archive Photo: The Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF) paid a working visit to Western Thrace, Greece. ABTTF delegation, led by ABTTF President Halit Habip Oğlu and ABTTF Vice President Sami Yusuf visited the offices of Mufti Ibrahim Seif of Komotinin [seen in the middle] elected by the Turkish community in Western Thrace on Saturday, 14 March 2020. Photograph by ABTTF]

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