Turkish minority in Xanthi elects religious leader
Mustafa Trampa has been elected as the new religious leader, mufti, of Xanthi by the Turks of the Western Thrace region on Sept. 9, amid the ongoing pressure on the Greek government for over 30 years.
Based on the Treaty of Lausanne signed on July 24, 1923, giving the right to elect their own mufti in Komotini and Xanthi in Western Thrace, the Turkish minority, who don’t recognize the muftis appointed by the government, elected their own mufti once again.
However, as Greece does not officially accept the mufti election organized by the Turks, ballot boxes could not be installed. The election, in which candidates Mustafa Trampa and Mustafa Kamu competed, were held in mosques on Sept. 9 by raising hands.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry congratulated Trampa with a written statement, saying, “Following the passing of Ahmet Mete, Turkish minority in Xanthi elected today their new mufti in an election they held in unity, solidarity.”
“We also appreciate the efforts of the Western Thrace Turkish Minority Advisory Board, who has made great efforts to organize the elections so that the results would reflect the will of the minority, despite all the pressures” it added.
Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also spoke with Trampa over the phone to congratulate him.
In 1990, the Turkish minority elected İbrahim Şerif, who was sentenced to 18 months in prison for including the expression “Turkish minority” in a statement he prepared after his candidacy was dropped in the parliamentary elections, as the mufti of Komotini and Mehmet Emin Aga in Xanthi.
After Aga’s death, Ahmet Mete took over the post in 2006. The Greek government, however, didn’t recognize the elected muftis and continued to appoint new muftis.
Since 1990, both elected and appointed muftis have been in office in Komotini and Xanthi.
Following Mete’s death in July, the mufti case came to the agenda in Xanthi once more and a new law regarding the functioning of the muftis was submitted to the Greek Parliament in the capital Athens as a draft by the government on July 22.
Following the approval of the regulation, the Western Thrace Turkish Minority Advisory Board decried the decision.
“The Lausanne Peace Treaty, which determines the principles regarding the mufti institution in Western Thrace and guarantees the religious autonomy of the Muslim Turkish minority, was ignored with the regulation accepted in the Assembly.”
Greece took action against the Turkish minority’s rights to elect their mufti and targeted minority members, the Foreign Ministry also tweeted on Sept. 5.
“We expect Greece to respect the rights of the Western Thrace Turkish Minority to elect their own religious leaders, which is guaranteed by international agreements, especially the Lausanne Peace Treaty, and to end its pressures in this context,” it said.
Ankara recalled that Article 40 of the Lausanne Peace Treaty, which grants the Turkish minority the right to establish, manage and control their own religious, educational and charitable and social institutions.