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The

application of Shariah in Western Thrace


Protecting the religious freedom of the Muslim minority or dismantling the Greek Constitution?
by Eirini Kakoulidou In Western countries some Muftis and Muslim organisations express the need for a designated competent body, which would resolve matters of Islamic Law, such as dissolution of marriage, inheritance and marriage. The critics are strongly opposed to these proposals, due to secular principles and the necessity of a common legal framework, which combats any kind of discrimination (racial, religious etc.). However, for almost one century, in the Greek area of Thrace1, the Muslim citizens have exercised their right to settle their legal issues with the help of their muftis. The validity of Islamic Law in the Greek legal system is based on Article 4 of Law 147/1914.2 The prevailing legal opinion is that this provision introduces a personal legal system of local character that is an exception concerning only the Greek Muslims living in Western Thrace. Greek Muslims living outside Western Thrace are subjected exclusively to the provisions of the Civil Code. Article 5 paragraph 2 of the later Law 1920/1991 states: The Mufti has jurisdiction among Muslim Greek citizens of his region on marriages, divorces, alimonies, custodies, guardianships, emancipation of minors, Muslim wills, and inheritance disputes, if these relationships are ruled by the Shariah.3 In fact, there is a dual judicial system for the Muslim minority in Western Thrace; the application of Islamic Law and the civil Greek Code. Officially, in the
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Western Thrace or simply Thrace is located between the Nestos and Evros. Together with the regions of Macedonia and Epirus, it is often referred to informally as northern Greece. It is also called Greek Thrace to distinguish it from Eastern Thrace, which lies east of the river Evros and forms the European part of Turkey, and the area to the north, in Bulgaria, known as Northern Thrace.
2

Greek Helsinki Monitor, 2006 : http://www.iwraw-ap.org/resources/pdf/Greece(1).pdf Ibid

abovementioned legal issues, the Muslims can choose either the civil court or the Muftis legal services. Actually, in most of the cases, they choose the judgement of the Mufti. This special legal system of concurrent jurisdiction, as defined by the EU, is a matter of controversy among Greek lawyers and human rights organisations. The vexed question has been whether Shariah family law contains, essentially, discriminatory provisions which violate human rights, particularly womens rights. On the subject of womens rights, the application of Shariah law in the area of Western Thrace seems to be in conflict with the provisions of the Greek Constitution and legislation. Additionally, it violates fundamental human rights which fight against all forms of discriminatory treatment towards women. This situation has created a legal and fundamental dilemma; On the one hand, there is the need to protect the religious freedom of the Muslim minority, in accordance with its own cultural and traditional values. On the other hand, it is necessary to ensure conformity with the cardinal rules of human rights, both on a European and on an international level, including the right to religious tolerance. Is it possible for all these conditions to coexist simultaneously? The purpose of this assignment is to illustrate the paradox of the application of Islamic law in Greece, an EU member state, and the contradiction being created.

Neo-millet system in contemporary Greece


The Muslim minority of Thrace has historically emerged from the Ottoman Empires demise and the creation of a new Turkish nation.4 The Ottoman millet

The Muslim minority of Thrace has historically emerged from the Ottoman Empires demise and the creation of a new Turkish nation. The Treaty of Lausanne (1923) established the obligatory population exchange between Christian Greek populations which were situated in the borders of the new Turkish nation, with the Islamic Turkish populations which lived on Greek soil. The Greek minority of Constantinople was excluded from this pact, as well as the Islamic minority of Thrace, which at the time numbered 86,000 people. Out of the latter, 39,000 were of Turkish descent, 30,000 were Pomaks and 12,000 were Gypsies (Rom). The Treaty of Lausanne declares that Muslim minority members are free to state their ethnic background (Turkish, Pomak or Rom), speak their native languages, practice their religious tasks and maintain their customs and traditions.

system offered religious minorities the ability to regulate many of their own affairs and legal issues, under their own ethics and religious customs. In 1926, the millet system was completely abolished in Turkey, despite the specific provisions from the Lausanne Treaty, which clearly stated that Greece and Turkey must implement measures in order to ensure that all issues with regard to the personal status of the minorities would be resolved in line with their religious customs.5 In order for this to actually happen, the minorities were asked to consent to the revocation of their special status, which they did. Nevertheless, A. Bedermacher- Gerousis claims that the consent of the minority was null and void and therefore Turkey violated the international obligation of the Lausanne Treaty.6 An outstanding paradox is that Turkey, with its primarily Muslim population, has abolished the millet system in which religious courts were acceptable, but Greece a EU country, with an Orthodox population, still supports it in Western Thrace. According to Tsitselikis, the Islamic legal regulation of personal status, in Thrace, converts the old-fashion millet into an enclave of postmodern religious society, creating in fact a neo-millet system, in which Greek civil law has a secondary role.7

The role of the Mufti and the qdi


The Ottoman legal system had two main authorities: the Mufti (a scholar who interprets the Shariah) and the qdi (the judge). The Mufti gave his opinion (fatw) on legal subjects, and then, this fatw could be presented before court by

AspasiaTsaoussi and Eleni Zervogianni Tsaoussi, A. and Zervogianni, E. (2008), Multiculturalism and Family Law: The Case of Greek Muslims, European Challenges in Contemporary Family Law, Katharina Boele-Woelki and Tone Sverdrup, eds., Intersentia: Mortsel, p.211
6

Ibid p.12, note 9

Tsitselikis, K, The legal status of Islam in Greece, Die Welt des Islams No:44, 3, Brill Academic Publishers: Leiden 2004, p.130

either of the parties as a legal advice, which could favour either the defendant or the plaintiff.8 After Greece annexed most of the European territory which previously belonged to the Ottoman Empire, in 1881, the Greek authorities assigned the functions of the Mufti as well as the ones of the qdi to the new Mufti. Put differently, the Mufti had, from now on a dual role; he was both a scholar giving the fatw, and the judge carrying his opinion into effect. In the same year, the Mufti was assigned a third role, when Greece signed the Treaty of Constantinople with Turkey. Now, the Mufti was also the religious leader of Muslim citizens 9 Therefore, according to Islamic law and tradition, the Mufti has also the duty of collecting the zakt (obligatory charity), so that the minimum standards of livelihood can be guaranteed for the poorest citizens. The Mufti organises the zakt in order to redistribute the wealth from the wealthier citizens to the poorest ones.10

Protecting the religious freedom


The protection of the right to religious freedom for minorities can be found in several international human rights treaties, characterised as an international standard which should be followed by all states. Immediately after the World War II, some international institutions included references to religious freedom, with regards to the principles of non- discrimination, equality, tolerance and respect for other peoples religion and beliefs. Such institutions contain the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Unfortunately, there is no international official document concerning the protection of religious freedom exclusively. The UN Declaration on the

Vikr, K. S. (2005), Between God and the Sultan, C. Hurst & Co.: London.

Tsitselikis, K. Muslims in Greece, Islam and the European Union, Richard Potz, Wolfgang Wieshaider, eds., Peeters: Leuven, 2004.
10

Zakat is one of the five pilars of Islam.

Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Religious Discrimination is the only such document, which covers the principle of religious tolerance on a global basis to be followed by all the member states of the international community. 11 According to Article 3 of the Greek Constitution, the Greek state respects the right to freedom of religious beliefs for every Greek citizen. This article can be analysed into two parts. Firstly, the right to worship freely, either in private or in public, any religious community or creed whose practice does not represent a threat to the public order and morals. Secondly, the obligation of the Greek government to offer legal protection to churches, cemeteries, synagogues, monasteries and other religious institutions of the minorities. The concept of morality can be interpreted in various ways, depending on historical and cultural factors. Consequently, it might be different in every society, since there is no international standard, which can be approved by all religions and cultures around the world.12

Human rights
The application of Shariah in family and personal law matters, within the Muslim minority in Thrace, as many researchers observe, has a tendency to disrespect international human rights norms. The implementation of the Shariah in Western Thrace is frequently considered as a retrogressive and anachronistic institution
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which hinders the social and financial development of the minority.

The main declaration issued by the human rights is that all human beings have equal value and dignity, regardless of gender, religion or race. Contemporary human rights legislation recognises the existence of several group rights. Nonetheless, it generally offers adequate protection to the right of individuals and
11

Proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 36/55 of 25 November 1981 http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/religion.htm


12

The State, the Law and Human Rights in Modern Greece, Vol. 9, Human Rights Quarterly, 1987.
13

Anagnostou, D. (1997), Religious Freedom and Minority Rights in the New Europe: The Case of the Muslim Courts in Western Thrace Paper delivered to the XV Modern Greek Studies, Association International Symposium 1997 on Modern Greece, Kent State University: Kent, Ohio, p. 5

considers a persons religious and cultural background as part of their distinct identity. On the contrary, the Islamic Law provides special benefits to men and disfavours women in legal cases of family disputes, divorces, inheritance and child custody.14 For example, in divorce cases, where a man can merely divorce his wife without any judicial proceedings being necessary, but Muslim women are not entitled to a similar right. Another practice in Islamic family law, which can be considered as a discriminatory rule against women, is drawn up in the law of inheritance. The general rules provide that daughters are entitled to half the share of sons. Furthermore, the process of divorce, according to Shariah, as well as the relationship between the married couple, seems to also disadvantage women, especially with regards to the principle of equality and the free development of the human personality. The form of divorce, according to which, a husband may unilaterally divorce his wife, without being required to show cause, and even without the need to recourse to any court or other authority, is apparently discriminatory, since it is not accessible to the wife. However, a Muslim wife does not have the right to file a divorce, except by court order on very precise and strict terms. These practices and ethics are in absolute contradiction with the Greek law and the customs of the country.15

Wedding ceremonies
A typical example: How is the wedding ceremony performed and legally confirmed? In June 2000, the qdi of the Muslim community in Xanthi in Western Thrace, the Mufti, issued a marriage licence for virgin women according to the Shariah. (No 157/22.6.2000).16 It includes the following terms:

14

Naskou-Perraki Paroula (2011), The Law of International Organisations. Institutional dimensions (Sakkoulas Publishers, Athens) p. 53
15 16

Ibid Provided to the writer by member of the Muslim community of W.Thrace.

Donation due to the social union through marriage: One [1] dress, one [1] golden chain (1 meter length), one [1] pair of earrings, five [5] golden bracelets, one [1] golden ring, one [1] watch, a mattress, a quilt and forty [40] kilos of copper. Donation due to dissolution of marriage: One hundred and one (101) golden pounds. Since we have settled the above cultural wedding differences, we do not see any religious or other impediment to the marriage between the virgin woman [], who is a Greek citizen and lives in [], and [] who is a Greek citizen and lives in []. This contract was executed by me, the Mufti of Xanthi. The wifes representatives The husbands representatives Such licences, with similar terms, contrary to the Greek law, the Constitution and the European legislation, are issued for every similar legal act between Muslim citizens of Thrace. If the Greek courts authorise the enforcement of these licences, they are valid. Most of the times they are authorised. When the Greek courts authorise their enforcement, this is supposedly happening because of the treaties that have been signed by Greece, from time to time, which are considered as binding. Is that the case? It is interesting that the two greatest institutions of the Greek justice disagree on whether this Treaty of Athens (1914) that legally covers the Shariah regime in Thrace, is valid or not. In two of its (similar) decisions, the Greek Council of State has decided that this Treaty of Athens is no longer valid, because it is utterly covered by the terms of the Treaty Lausanne (1923) which followed the population exchange between Greece and Turkey. The Supreme Court of Cassation has consistently held that The Treaty of Athens is the legal foundation of the minority protection in Greece.17

Is Shariah in W. Thrace voluntary or obligatory?


Officially, in the legal issues mentioned above, the Muslims can choose either the civil court or the Muftis legal services. Nonetheless, according to Tsitselikis, the Muftis jurisdiction has actually become mandatory, since Muslim women are entrapped by social stereotypes: in case of an application for judicial review to the Greek civil courts, this legal action would be criticised, due to lack of loyalty towards the minority.18 Almost all researchers in the field of Islamic law in Western Thrace share the above-stated presumption. This could also be interpreted the opposite way: If the principles of a minority are sociologically assumed to be cherished by women, they would not automatically have an utterly individualistic need to resolve their issue at any expense, i.e. at the civil court (or the Christian court, as considered by many Muslims). Certainly, there are exceptions, but the assumption that, if Muslim women were not expected by society to choose the Mufti, they would probably choose the civil courts, is rather generalising. The fact that Muslim women are highly dedicated to Islamic principles is very significant and it should be taken into account. Nevertheless, Dia Anagnostou states that the Muftis decisions are not a sign of a strict application of Shariah to family issues but they demonstrate respect towards civil law principles, which gradually have blended with what is considered socially acceptable and legitimate by the Muslim society.19

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In his book Sacred law of Islam and Muslim Greek citizens -between communalism and liberalism, the Greek lawyer Giannis Ktistakis refers to this argument and agrees with the Councils view, emphasising that the existing distance from the Greek civil Code, as far as the Muslim minority of Thrace is concerned, is conflict with essential components of the contemporary human rights protection.
18

Tsitselikis, K The legal status of Islam in Greece, Die Welt des Islams No:44, 3, Brill Academic Publishers: Leiden 2004 p.p 112-113
19

Anagnostou, D. (1997), Religious Freedom and Minority Rights in the New Europe: The Case of the Muslim Courts in Western Thrace Paper delivered to the XV Modern Greek

Moreover, there is a new trend among the Muslims of Thrace: In inheritance matters and in division of matrimonial property, in case of a divorce, the two parties will first seek advice from the Mufti. If the two parties are not satisfied by the Muftis legal opinion, then they can bring the matter before the Civil court. Anagnostou states that, nowadays, most Muslims usually prefer to seise to Civil courts in order to resolve their inheritance matters, which have gradually fallen under the jurisdiction of civil courts.20

The control mechanism of the Civil Court


The Civil Court controls the limits of jurisdiction of the Muftis legal decision, without examining the merits of the case. If a Muslim lodged an appeal against the Muftis decision to the Civil Court, the judge would control only the application of this particular decision. What is more, the Civil Court and the Court of Appeal control the constitutionality of the Muftis decision. Nevertheless, if the civil court wants to control the constitutionality of the Muftis decision, the judge is not familiar with the content of the Islamic law rules and, thus, is unable to evaluate this decision.21 This could actually be a problem, because the condition of the gender equality provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights does not seem to be compatible with certain provisions of Islamic family and inheritance law. Eleni Zervogianni mentions that, according to the statistics, only 11 out of 2,679 cases have been found unconstitutional, since 1991. She states that, apparently,

Studies, Association International Symposium 1997 on Modern Greece, Kent State University: Kent, Ohio, p.24
20

Anagnostou, D. Religious Freedom and Minority Rights in the New Europe: The Case of the Muslim Courts in Western Thrace Paper delivered to the XV Modern Greek Studies, Association International Symposium 1997 on Modern Greece, Kent State University: Kent, Ohio, 1997, p.24
21

Tsitselikis, K. Muslims in Greece, Islam and the European Union, Richard Potz, Wolfgang Wieshaider, eds., Peeters: Leuven 2004 p. 104

Greek judges do not essentially examine the essence of a decision when they have to decide on its unconstitutionality.22 Even though the jurisdiction of the Mufti is officially controlled by the Civil Court and the Court of Appeal, this control mechanism, in fact, interferes with the decisions of the Mufti only on exceptional occasions.

Unwritten law
According to the Hanafi school of Law (which is the most popular school for Muslims in Western Thrace), one apparent reason for the judges of the Civil Court not being easily familiar with Islamic law is the fact that the applied law is not in written form. It is neither standardised nor codified. During Ottoman times, the Mufti gave his legal opinion (fatw) on matters and the qdi was able to use both the diverse rules of the Shariah and the qnun, which was a legal Code drawn up by the Sultan. However, the new Mufti of Western Thrace issues the fatw without having any supplementary authoritative text, issued by a political authority, which must be recognised by Islamic religion. Nevertheless, there are obviously different approaches regarding the status of the Mufti. The Muslims of Western Thrace frequently, contrary to the term courts, claim that the Mufti does not issue his opinion on legal cases based on the conventional and civil sense of the term; his role is primarily consultative and compromising.23


22

AspasiaTsaoussi and Eleni Zervogianni Tsaoussi, A. and Zervogianni, E. Multiculturalism and Family Law: The Case of Greek Muslims, European Challenges in Contemporary Family Law, Katharina Boele-Woelki and Tone Sverdrup, eds., Intersentia: Mortsel, 2008, p.p 119120
23

Anagnostou, D. Religious Freedom and Minority Rights in the New Europe: The Case of the Muslim Courts in Western Thrace Paper delivered to the XV Modern Greek Studies, Association International Symposium 1997 on Modern Greece, Kent State University: Kent, Ohio, p.25

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Concurrent jurisdiction - Should this model be revised?


In its 2009 Human Rights Report: Greece, the U.S. Department of States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labour states that Shariah is criticised by many NGO and media reports as discriminatory against women, especially in child- custody, divorce, or inheritance cases.24 In contemporary Greece, there are critics who want the present political model to be abolished or reformed. The expertise of the researchers is crucial for the NGOs and media. The studies have various approaches and conclusions. The most penetrating critique on the application of Islamic law in the Greek legal system is provided by Yannis Ktistakis. In his book The Holy Law of Islam and the Greek Muslim Citizens (Athens/Thessalonica: Sakkoulas Publishers, 2006), he states that Greece is the only European country which still implements the Shariah, and that Shariah is interpreted and applied by Holy Courts in Western Thrace in the most anachronistic way. The study illustrates the fact that, contrary to the Greek governments statements, no provision of the Treaty of Lausanne makes the implementation of the Shariah or the functioning of Holy Courts mandatory for the Muslim minority members. What is more, he states that Greek courts cannot evaluate the merits of decisions, which are based on an unwritten law that is unfamiliar to the Greek judges. In addition, the Muftis decisions are written in a foreign language (Ottoman Turkish). Therefore, the Greek judges cannot read them, since their translations are frequently inaccurate.25 After giving examples of several problems caused by the Muftis decisions, such as parental consent for child marriages, womens unequal rights to obtain a divorce, indifference towards childrens best interest in custody cases, Ktistakis reaches the conclusion that, due to child marriages of children, the number of Muslim

24 25

http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eur/136034.htm Greek Helsinki Monitor 2006 p.37

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divorces is five times higher than Christian divorces.26 It is not quite clear if Ktistakis has any suggestion as an alternative solution, except for the abolition of this concurrent jurisdiction. Aspasia Tsaoussi and Eleni Zervogianni offer another thorough critique of the concurrent jurisdiction. In their study Multiculturalism and Family Law: The Case of Greek Muslims, based on the fact that the concurrent jurisdiction disfavours Muslim women, they suggest that there is a better alternative. They advise the Greek citizens, regardless of their religion, to move towards mediation, in order to settle their family matters. According to them, the basic principles of mediation fulfil the overwhelming moral and religious needs of both cultures in Western Thrace. Therefore, they provide and contain the common values of the two competing, yet coexisting systems.27 Their critique begins with the almost similar principles shared by the minority and the majority. They also argue that it is possible to address the sensitivity of the two communities in a single jurisdiction system through the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) procedure. This idea seems to combine the mediation of the Shariah with the secular principle, which requires one jurisdiction for all citizens. Tsaoussi and Zervogianni claim that the Qur'ans solution to divorce offers the most typical example. As they mention, in Islam, divorce is acceptable only when there are major irreconcilable differences. Divorce has to be the last solution, since, according to the Prophet, divorce is the most despicable of all legal action, in the sight of God. Hence, the Quran encourages the parties to try harder to reconcile, in the following steps: (1) The parties must make an effort to resolve their disputes and confront their problems together; (2) If they fail, two conciliators, one from the husbands side and the other from the wifes side, should be sent, in order for them to settle their differences. (3) If the conciliators efforts also fail, divorce may be granted.
26

Ibid p. 39

27

Tsaoussi, A. and Zervogianni, E. (2008), Multiculturalism and Family Law: The Case of Greek Muslims, European Challenges in Contemporary Family Law, Katharina Boele-Woelki and Tone Sverdrup, eds., Intersentia: Mortsel. p.223

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According to Konstantinos Tsitselikis, the application of Islamic law within the framework of a European legal order causes some incompatibilities. In certain cases, individual rights and principles of equality are in conflict with religious freedom.28 It is evident that Tsitselikis, in many of his conclusions, considers balancing various interests as a high priority. He claims that the current political model is disadvantageous not only to citizens who bring their cases before the Mufti, but also to the authority and significance of this Muslim institution. In addition, he suggests a re-evaluation and reform of the Mufti institution, with equal concern for the Muslim religious traditions and their freedoms, as well as for the fundamental principles and individual rights of the European legal order. His last suggestion is about the Muftis qualifications as a legal leader. Tsitselikis is suggesting that, apart from the religious education, the Mufti candidate should be equally qualified with the rest of the judges, so as to avoid a debasement of his role. 29 In his conclusive statements, Tsitselikis says that the social balance between legally imposed norms should be in consideration, and that these norms are unknown to the minority society.30 Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF), which has its headquarters in Germany, has submitted a similar report to relevant authorities, right after the release (11 March 2010) of the 2009 Human Rights Report: Greece, written by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. The report includes many of the issues on the topic of the Muslims in Western Thrace that have been puzzled by the U.S. report. In the section regarding women, the report states that If the government restrained the powers of the Mufti (who has undertaken religious duties) and if it abolished the recognition of Shariah, it would be a violation of its obligations, which arise from international treaties in
28

Tsitselikis, Konstantinos. The legal status of Islam in Greece, Die Welt des Islams No:44, 3, Brill Academic Publishers: Leiden. 2004, p.p 121-122
29 30

Ibid p.122 Ibid p.131

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which Greece has participated. Nonetheless, this does not automatically mean that the Turkish Minority of Western Thrace disrespects any concern about the application of Shariah in the area of Thrace, which is meticulously stated in the report. ABTTF reminds us that Islamic inheritance law has a restricted application in Western Thrace, and it is not a part of the Turkish Minoritys tradition.31

Conclusions
The position of a Mufti in the Greek legal order is characterised by a fundamental contradiction between two factors, which are equally based on respect for human rights: The problem which is caused by the major conflict between Islamic law (Shariah) and Greek Law, the current sense of justice in Greece and the international conventions, signed by Greece, for the protection of human rights. The right of the Muslim minority in the Greek region of Thrace to preserve their rights, which are established, in their religious law. These rights are important to this minority, in order to maintain its coherence as a community. According to its current legal situation, a Mufti has a dual role: On the one hand, he is the highest official of religious law: He has a supervising role over mosques, prayer leaders per mosque, cemeteries and waqfs. In addition, he offers his advice and guidance to Muslims, he controls all charity work and he performs wedding ceremonies. On the other hand, he is a qdi (a religious judge), having control over the differences between Greek Muslims who live on his district. These differences are related to only a few issues of Family law and Inheritance

31

Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (2010), Parallel Report by ABTTF on the 2009 Human Rights Report: Greece: https://www.abttf.org/images/Raporlar/US-2010Human-Rights-Report-on-Greece_Parallel-Report-by-ABTTF.pdf

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law, which are crucial issues, as far as human rights are concerned. The legal opinions and edicts, which are issued by the Mufti, are estimated by the Court of Common Pleas, and thus, become enforceable.

Problems
If we examine the current law, both the Substantive and the Procedural law, we will discover the following three categories of problems, which inhibit the Muftis work and justice: In many cases, there is a poor control of constitutionality and contradiction between the Muftis legal opinions and European or public policy. The application of Shariah causes serious problems, if it is controlled according to the basic principles of the law, such as equality, or childrens and womens best interest (See relevant binding International law on human rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Convention on the Rights of the Child, Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women, etc.) The Greek civil courts interpret in a strict way the Muslim term Greek Muslim citizens in the district of a mufti, according to legislation 1920/1991. As a result, the Greek courts do not authorise the enforcement of the Muftis legal decisions in regard to a wedding between a Greek and a foreign citizen or a wedding between inhabitants outside the Muftis district. Therefore, the dissolution of a marriage is impossible. Since 2008, there is an equally strict interpretation on the Muftis jurisdiction over child-custody cases. As a result, the Muftis legal opinions on such cases, in case of a divorce, are not been complied with.

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Legislative gaps
The optional jurisdiction of the Mufti either is not provided for or is not applicable. Very often, civil courts bring cases before the Mufti, as an exclusively competent body. In cases where the one party approaches the civil courts and the other party approaches the Mufti, there is no provision for such cases. In cases ruled by the Mufti, there is no provision for a second-degree trial or an annulment of his rulings. Neither the legal representation, nor the principle of equality of the parties, nor the courts statement of the reasons for its decisions is compulsory. If we compare the application of Islamic law in three Muslim districts of Greece, there is a difference in the quality of justice. The application of Islamic law in Komotini is, to an evident degree, the best. ***

References
Tsitselikis K. 2004, The legal status of Islam in Greece, Die Welt des Islams No:44, 3, Brill Academic Publishers: Leiden. Tsitselikis K. 2004, Muslims in Greece, Islam and the European Union, Richard Potz, Wolfgang Wieshaider, eds., Peeters: Leuven Ktistakis Yannis, 2006, The Holy Law of Islam and the Greek Muslim Citizens (Athens/Thessalonica: Sakkoulas Publishers. Boussiakou I. 2008, Religious Freedom and Minority Rights in Greece: the case of the Muslim minority in western Thrace, the Hellenic Observatory, London School of Economics, Greece Paper No 21: London.

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Anagnostou D. 1997, Religious Freedom and Minority Rights in the New Europe: The Case of the Muslim Courts in Western Thrace Paper delivered to the XV Modern Greek Studies, Association International Symposium 1997 on Modern Greece, Kent State University: Kent, Ohio. Mekos Zafiris, 1991, The Muftis jurisdiction and the Greek Law (Sakkoulas Publishers, Athens/ Kommotini, 1991. Greek Helsinki Monitor 2006, Parallel Report on Greeces Compliance with the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, http://www.iwraw-ap.org/resources/pdf/Greece(1).pdf Kotzabassi Athina, Family Legal Relationships among Greek Muslims, (Athens/Thessalonica, 2001, www.kethi.gr), Systematic legal approach to this matter, developed by the Research Centre on Equality Issues (Kethi). Tsitselikis Konstantinos, The Mufti's position in the Greek legal order, In: D. Christopoulos (eds), Legal issues of religious alterity in Greece, Athens: Kritiki/KEMO MAP OF GREECE WITH WESTERN THRACE IN GREEN

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