The election of the local Mufti by Muslims in Thrace was one of the contentious issues stressed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his recent visit to Athens, and it is turning the Greek government into a confusing spiral.
The whole thing started when Education Minister, Kostas Gavroglou, leaked a portion of an interview he gave to the Greek parliament TV, in which he says that “a serious discussion on the rationalization of the mufti election process,” is long overdue.
In the interview which will be transmitted in its entirety on Friday night, the minister claims that the crucial issue in a potential free election of the Thrace mufti, which the Greek state does not allow, is the definition of the appropriate electorate.
Gavroglou added that right after the upcoming parliament vote on the optional use of Sharia by the Thrace Muslims, the judicial jurisdiction of the mufti will be applied by a presidential decree, and then a special committee on the Islamic law will be convened to offer recommendations on the mufti election process.
A few hours later Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias jumped on the issue and openly contradicted the Education Minister, telling reporters that the mufti election issue is not one to be negotiated with Turkey.
Now, the Foreign Minister’s statement was more of a response to the things the Turkish President said about the issue in Athens, and less of one to his colleague’s statement. Nevertheless, confusion ensued.
With Greek media reporting a split on the issue inside the government, it was time for the prime minister to jump in. Confirming Gavroglou’s original statement, Alexis Tsipras said that the issue has been a matter of internal conversation within his government for some time now.
“It comes as an objective necessity, unrelated to Greek-Turkish relations”, the PM said, adding that the issue concerns the Greek state and Thrace’s Muslim minority, which is of a ternary composition; meaning of three different origins.
What is needed is for the Muslim religious leaders to be equally accepted by the Greek state and the Muslim minority, clarified the PM.