Jan 10 2018

Greece limits use of Sharia law for Turkish community - report

The Greek parliament voted to limit the powers of Islamic courts over the family matters of some 100,000 Muslims in the northeast of the country.

Civil cases involving members of the Muslim community may now be referred to Sharia courts only with the agreement of both parties, the BBC said on Wednesday.

The step was aimed at correcting the mistakes of the past and provide equal rights for all Greek citizens before the law, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tisipras said, according to the BBC.

The legislative changes follow a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) over an inheritance dispute by a Muslim woman who lives in the northeastern city of Komotini.

Legislation concerning minority rights of Muslims, mostly ethnic Turks, was based on international treaties in the aftermath of the Ottoman Empire’s collapse, but Greek governments have been reluctant to amend the privileges, as many disputes between Greece and Turkey remain unresolved.

While the majority of the parties in the Greek Parliament supported the bill, the extreme-right Golden Dawn party opposed it, saying that it failed to outline the remaining powers of the Islamic courts, and did not address the issue of locally-elected Muslim clerics who do not hold an official status but still influence the minority community.

It was not immediately clear if Golden Dawn's concerns had been met, according to the BBC report.