Greece’s discriminatory policy towards its Turkish Muslim minority violates its obligations under European Union law, a European political party said on Wednesday.
In a letter to the European Commission, the President of the European Free Alliance (EFA), Lorena Lopez de Lacalle, inquired about the steps she would take to ensure that the Turkish Muslim minority in Greece could exercise their right to education without compromising his religious duties, the EFA said in a statement.
The letter, which was sent to EU Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli, expressed the party’s concern over a recent decree banning minority primary schools in areas where most of Greece’s Muslim Turkish minority is concentrated. to close early on Fridays to allow their students to attend prayers. , according to the press release.
“Preventing school children from attending Friday prayers constitutes discrimination against the Muslim community and (there are) fears that the aim of such a decision is ‘assimilation’,” the statement said.
In this context, the party said: “Will the commission open an investigation to determine whether the actions of the Greek authorities in this case constitute a breach of their obligations under European law?
The statement also drew attention to the current situation of Turkish minority schools.
He pointed out that the number of schools offering programs in Turkish and Greek has increased from 230 to 103 over the past two decades.
“Taken together, these measures suggest a deliberate campaign to undermine the rights of the community both to practice their religion freely and to receive education in their mother tongue.
– Long struggle for rights
A Greek court ruling on Wednesday rejecting a re-registration request from the Turkish Union of Xanthi, one of the three largest organizations of the Turkish minority in Western Thrace, came in response to a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights. man (ECHR) more than ten years ago that Greece never realized.
Under the 2008 ECHR ruling, the right of Turks in Western Thrace to use the word “Turkish” in the names of associations was guaranteed, but Athens did not implement the ruling, effectively banning the identity of the Turkish group.
The Greek region of Western Thrace is home to a Turkish Muslim community of 150,000 people.
In 1983, the nameplate of the Turkish Union of Xanthi (Iskece Turk Birligi) was removed and the group was totally banned in 1986 on the grounds that “Turkish” was in its name.
To implement the ECHR’s decision, in 2017 the Greek parliament passed a law allowing banned associations to apply for re-registration, but the legislation provided for major exceptions that complicated applications.
Turkey has long denounced Greek violations of the rights of its Muslims and the Turkish minority, from closing mosques and schools to banning Muslim Turks from electing their religious leaders.
The measures violate the 1923 Lausanne Treaty as well as ECHR verdicts, making Greece a law-breaking state, Turkish officials say.