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BY ANDREW E. MANATOS
Today, the Coordinated Effort of Hellenes (CEH) released the following statement in reaction to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan‘s recent remarks regarding religious freedom reciprocity with Greece:The Coordinated Effort of Hellenes is surprised by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent remarks that he would reopen Orthodox Christianity’s Theological School at Halki if he received religious freedom “reciprocity” from Greece. Achieving such “reciprocity” would require the expulsion of Muslims and closure of mosques in Greece. If Greece were to begin treating its Muslim minority in Thrace, Greece with “reciprocity” — like Turkey treats its Christian minority — Greece would have to:
1. Adopt policies that would effectively force 98% of the 120,000 Muslim minority in Thrace to leave Greece. Turkey’s policies toward its Greek Orthodox minority population have forced 147,500 of the 150,000 Greek Orthodox in Turkey to leave the country;
2. Confiscate and render non-functional nearly all of the many flourishing mosques in Thrace and order the military to stop the most holy prayer services taking place in the few remaining mosques. Turkey has confiscated thousands of properties in Turkey connected to the Orthodox Church and destroyed an additional 500 previously flourishing Orthodox Churches in occupied Cyprus. Turkey allows no Greek Orthodox Churches to be built and few to be repaired in Turkey or Cyprus, and it recently had its military stop Christmas prayer services in occupied Cyprus; and
3. Stop paying Muftis who carry out certain judicial functions in Greece and no longer permit Muslim leaders to select the Muftis who are approved by the state to hold office. The Turkish government does not pay Greek Orthodox priests for carrying out civic duties as the Greek government does for Muftis in Greece. As well, Turkey does not allow Muslims to elect their own Muftis in Turkey, despite asking this of Greece.
The solution for achieving mutual religious freedom, or “reciprocity,” is not for Greece to undertake the steps listed above, but instead for Erdogan to stop his shameful record of anti-religious freedom policies in Turkey and Cyprus.Back to top