Muftis need not be elected

It is fully legal for the government to appoint the religious leaders of Greece’s large Muslim minority in Thrace instead of allowing their election, the country’s highest administrative court has found. In a decision made public yesterday, the Council of State rejected a suit by a representative of the Muslim minority in the Thracian town of Komotini against the government’s renewal of the local mufti’s term in office. The plaintiff argued that the religious leader should have been elected by Komotini’s Muslims, in accordance with the Treaty of Athens Greece signed with Turkey in 1913. The court found that the treaty had been superseded by the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, which stipulated that the Greek minority in Turkey and the Turkish minority on Greece should enjoy equal civil rights with the rest of each country’s population. Furthermore, the ruling noted that the appointment of muftis does not constitute a religious rights breach as the Muslim leaders are also invested with powers similar to those of a senior civil servant or a judge.