Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticized the appointment of senior religious authorities for the Muslim minority in Thrace by the Greek state, a day after meeting with his Greek counterpart, Antonis Samaras, in Qatar, when Erdogan said Turkey would pay for construction of a mosque in Athens.
“The appointment of muftis has increased tension in the region,” Erdogan told members of his Justice and Development Party. “We asked the Greek government to show greater sensitivity over minority issues. Such a mistake … is unacceptable,” he said, according to the newspaper Kathimerini.
Ankara has in the past backed its own muftis that are not recognized by the Greek state. An amendment passed earlier this month allows the Greek state to appoint imams to state schools and mosques in Thrace. Muslims in Greece have long been critical that the government hasn’t built them a mosque and they instead have to hold their prayer sessions in makeshift areas, including basements.