ANKARA: An elected Muslim religious leader in Greece’s Western Thrace region was given 80 days of prison sentence for usurping authority.
İbrahim Şerif is the elected mufti of Komotini (Gümülcine) which is one of the three major cities of the Western Thrace region in Greece, home to a Muslim-Turkish minority of around 150,000 people.
Şerif tweeted on Nov. 6 that he was convicted by a court in Alexandroupoli (Dedeağac) on Nov. 5 on the basis of his participation in a Friday prayer in one of the villages of Evros province in March 2016.
Serif also shared a copy of the court summons.
His lawyer has appealed the decision in a higher court.
Şerif previously won a case in 1999 over the same charge after appealing to the European Court of Human Rights.
He was elected mufti of Komotini in 1990 by the local Muslim Turkish community.
In Western Thrace, the election of muftis has been a bone of contention for the Muslim Turkish community since 1991. Muftis have the jurisdiction to decide on family and inheritance matters of local Muslims.
The election of muftis by Muslims in Greece was regulated in the 1913 Treaty of Athens between Greece and the Ottoman Empire and was later included in the Greek Act 2345/1920.
However, Greece annulled this law in 1991 and started appointing the muftis itself.
The majority of Muslim Turks in the cities of Komotini (Gümülcine) and Xanthi (Iskece) do not recognize the appointed muftis and elect their own instead, who are not recognized by the Greek state.__Hurriyet