Lawmakers in Greece are set to limit the powers of Islamic courts which operate in a border region that is home to a 100,000-strong Muslim minority, acting in response to a European court complaint.
Islamic courts operated by the local mufti (a religious/legal authority for the Muslim population in the region), have been an ongoing legal issue for Greece for decades.
In his recent official visit to Greece, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the presence of state-appointed muftis, instead of locally elected leaders, was in violation of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne.
The Greek authorities made no public statement concerning the muftis’ legal jurisdiction.
However, backed by parliament’s largest political parties, a draft bill to be voted upon later on Tuesday proposes scrapping rules imposed more than 90 years ago that refer many civil cases involving members of the Muslim community to Sharia law courts.
The new legislation will give Greek courts priority in all cases.
The changes — considered long overdue by many Greek legal experts — follow a complaint made to the Council of Europe’s Court of Human Rights over an inheritance dispute by a Muslim woman who lives in the northeastern city of Komotini, in the Thrace prefecture.