Parliament voted legislation on Tuesday that limits the influence of Islamic Sharia law courts in the region of Thrace in northeastern Greece, which is home to some 100,000 Greek Muslims.
The bill was submitted to Parliament on Tuesday after a complaint was filed by a Muslim woman in the town of Komotini, regarding an inheritance dispute, with Europe’s Court of Human Rights.
The bill, which was backed by Greece’s largest political parties, will abolish rules introduced almost a century ago whereby many civil cases involving members of the Muslim community were referred to Sharia courts.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras described the new legislation as “historic,” as, he said, “it widens and deepens equality among all Greeks.”
“The government today is taking an historic step by bringing the bill on Sharia to Parliament,” he said in a written statement.
“As a member of the European Union, our country has voluntarily committed to certain treaties, such as the European Convention of Human Rights,” he added.
According to the new law, Greek courts will have priority in all cases.
“Respecting in every way the unique characteristics of the Muslim minority in Thrace, the government, with the bill, rectifies past injustices against its members,” Tsipras said, adding that under the previous situation, many Muslims had been deprived of individual rights “which all Greeks should enjoy.”
Tsipras added that it is incumbent on everyone to pursue dialogue so that the necessary steps are taken to uphold the rights, and improve the quality of life, of Thrace’s Muslim community.