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Society

Turks Living in Thrace Mark 1988 Anniversary of Identity Protest

February 2, 2019

The Turkish minority in Greece’s Western Thrace region came together to commemorate the Jan. 29, 1988 rally against what it called the government’s oppression and denial of their identity.

The event 31 years earlier occured in the city of Komotini where Turkish Minority of Western Thrace Advisory Board (BTTADK) Chairman Ibrahim Serif said the rally in 1988 was “a peaceful resistance movement” against the increasing oppression, the Turkish news agency Anadolu said in a report on the new demonstration.

In 1988, the Greek judiciary had shut down several associations in the Western Thrace which had the word “Turkish” in their names, by saying “there are no Turks in Greece,” the report added, with the Turks living in that area of Greece saying they in 1988 that oppression was getting worse after Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus in 1974.

In those years, Turks in Western Thrace – who were being called Muslim Greeks – said they had trouble with everyday tasks such as getting driver’ licenses and repairing or building new houses and in 1990, the report said, far-right Greeks attacked shops of Turks in Komotini and Xanthi, causing injuries.

Today, associations having the word “Turkish” in their names are still banned in Western Thrace, although the European Court of Human Rights ruled against Greece on the issue in 2008. Western Thrace region of Greece is home to around 150,000 Muslim Greeks who prefer to call themselves Turks.

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