Caught in the eye of the storm

The Greek media’s coverage of the Muslim minority in northern Greece over the past few weeks was unorthodox but still indicative of the quality of our television democracy. Although the main issue is Ankara’s attempts to create tension in the region in order to put pressure on Greece and thus promote its foreign policy agenda, the media chose to turn their spotlight on Thrace due to PASOK’s decision to nominate Gulbeyaz Karahasan, a Greek Muslim lawyer, for the Drama-Kavala-Xanthi prefecture in the October polls. It is not certain whether Socialist party leader George Papandreou picked Karahasan in a bid to enhance the emancipation of the minority population or simply because he thought the «young Muslim female» candidate profile suits PASOK’s revamped image. The Pomak lawyer was not the only minority member to be caught up in the fray. Ilhan Ahmet, New Democracy’s parliamentary deputy for Xanthi, has also been caught in the eye of the storm after making a trip to Ankara for discussions with Turkish leaders, as well as signing a provocative document drafted by Muslim officials. Ahmet’s actions were no doubt a mistake. On the other hand, we should note that this type of behavior is the rule rather than the exception. In fact, members of the minority who have in the past been elected deputies for Greece’s mainstream parties have committed far bigger blunders. It is hypocritical for PASOK to protest the behavior of Ahmet at the time when its former Muslim deputy Galip Galip used to act in line with the regime in Ankara. (During a visit to Turkey he reportedly said that Greece was using ethnic Greeks from the Black Sea region to dismember Turkey.) At least Ahmet, a member of the young generation, was elected against the will of the consulate in Komotini. Most importantly, he has shown signs of a moderate approach which is threatened by the current climate of polarization.