Thrace’s Muslims are in the spotlight after nomination

New Democracy’s parliamentary deputy for Xanthi, Ilhan Ahmet, has been in the eye of the storm over PASOK leader George Papandreou’s decision to nominate the Muslim lawyer Gulbeyaz Karahasan as a candidate for Drama-Kavala-Xanthi prefect in this year’s local elections. A trip Ahmet took to Ankara about two months ago, and what he is alleged to have discussed with the Turkish leadership regarding Thrace’s Moslem minority, has been presented in the «media courts» as tantamount to treason. Ahmet did what all his colleagues and officials within his religious group in Thrace have always done; he briefed the Turkish government on the problems faced by the minority, hoping for their help within the framework of Turkish-Greek relations. It was unfortunate for him that his trip to Turkey was dragged into the war between critics and supporters of Karahasan’s candidacy. Two months ago, during the trip itself, no one had been interested. A lawyer and politician, Ahmet is seen by the minority’s hard core as somewhat of a dissident. He is seen to represent the minority’s more modern image, as far as that is possible within a society as deeply conservative and inward-looking as Thrace’s Muslims are. Ahmet talked with Kathimerini about the trip to Ankara that put him in the firing line, about Karahasan’s candidacy and minority issues that have often caused tension.