x

Society

Greece to Limit Sharia Law after European Court Challenge

January 9, 2018

ATHENS (AP) — Lawmakers in Greece are set to limit the powers of Islamic courts operating in a border region that is home to a 100,000-strong Muslim minority.

Backed by parliament’s largest political parties, the draft law is set to be voted on later Tuesday. The proposal aims to scrap rules dating back more than 90 years ago and which refer many civil cases involving members of the Muslim community to Sharia law courts. The new legislation will give Greek courts priority in all cases.

The changes — considered long overdue by many Greek legal experts — follow a complaint to the Council of Europe’s Court of Human Rights over an inheritance dispute by a Muslim woman who lives in the northeastern Greek city of Komotini.

Legislation concerning minority rights was based on international treaties following wars in the aftermath of the Ottoman empire’s collapse. The Muslim minority in Greece is largely Turkish speaking. Minority areas were visited last month by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Greek governments in the past have been reluctant to amend minority rights, as many disputes between Greece and Turkey remain unresolved.

Currently, Islamic court hearings are presided over by a single official, a state-appointed Muslim cleric.

In parliament Tuesday, Constantine Gavroglou, minister of education and religious affairs, praised opposition party support for the bill.

“This is not just a technical adjustment, it’s a very important day for parliament … because of the broad support that is key when addressing issues of democracy and people’s rights,” he told lawmakers.

“(Current rules) stem from policies that were hostile toward the minority and sought to create second class citizens.”

The extreme right Golden Dawn party opposed the bill, arguing that it failed to adequately outline what powers would be retained by Islamic courts, and did not address the issue of locally-elected clerics who operate in an unofficial but influential capacity.

PM Tsipras: Draft bill on Sharia law “a historic step for Greece”

The draft bill on Sharia law is a historic step for Greece, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in a tweet on his official page.

?The government is taking a historic step today, bringing to Parliament the bill on Sharia law that expands the equality and equity enjoyed by all Greeks without exception,? Tsipras said.

The amendment relates to family law cases in the Muslim minority in northern Greece and is included in the draft omnibus bill expected to be tabled in Parliament by Tuesday night. It gives precedence to a Greek court of law if there is no agreement among parties to go to a local Islamic law official.
?As a member of the European Union, our country is voluntarily committed to specific treaties, such as the European Convention on Human Rights,? Tsipras noted.

?With this regulation, the government corrects injustices made in the past at the expense of members of the Muslim community of Thrace (such as) exempting them from the state of legal guarantees and civil liberties enjoyed by all Greek citizens; it respects however the unique features of the minority,? the prime minister said.

He added, ?We ought to proceed with steady steps towards the reforms that will upgrade the rights and quality of life of the Muslim minority of Thrace, by persisting in dialogue and facing issues with cool-headedness and awareness of their seriousness.”

___
Sources: AP, ANA

RELATED

ATHENS – Eirini Baroulaki, the oldest living woman in Greece, passed away at the age of 119 on May 14.

Top Stories

Columnists

A pregnant woman was driving in the HOV lane near Dallas.

General News

NEW YORK – Meropi Kyriacou, the new Principal of The Cathedral School in Manhattan, was honored as The National Herald’s Educator of the Year.

Video

Tornado Kills Multiple People in Iowa as Powerful Storms Again Tear Through Midwest

GREENFIELD, Iowa (AP) — Multiple people were killed when a tornado tore through a small town in Iowa and left a wide swath of obliterated homes and crumpled cars, while the howling winds also twisted and toppled wind turbines.

LOS ANGELES – The UCLA Stavros Niarchos Foundation Center for the Study of Hellenic Culture and Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral present ‘A Taste of Cyprus,’ lecture and food tasting with Christina Loucas, author, recipe developer, and food photographer on Wednesday, June 12, cocktails, 6:15 PM, and lecture and dinner, 7 PM, at the Huffington Center at Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 1324 S.

HALKIDIKI – Professionals and amateur golfers from Europe, the ideal weather, the impressive golf course of Porto Carras, and the excellent facilities of Porto Carras Grand Resort, created a unique setting for the international golf tournament Porto Carras Pro-Am Aegean Mini Tour, held from May 14-18, on the peninsula of Sithonia in Halkidiki.

ATHENS - The Minister of the Interior, Niki Kerameus, highlighted the postal vote for the upcoming European elections and the cooperation with local and regional governments at the thematic conference of the Union of Regions of Greece, "The Regions Facing the Challenges: Institutional Armoring - Rural Development," in Patras.

ATHENS - With new destinations in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, as well as strengthened presence in traditional markets like Cyprus, Turkey, Italy, Spain, and Portugal, AEGEAN continues its development path, celebrating 25 years of air transport.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. [email protected]

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.