Economy

Greece to limit Sharia Law after European Court challenge

Greece to limit Sharia Law after European Court challenge

Religious courts that provide for the almost 120,000-strong Muslim minority in the region of Western Thrace will in future only be able to rule on family law matters such as divorce, child custody and inheritance.

Legislation concerning minority rights was based on global treaties following wars in the aftermath of the Ottoman empire's collapse.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in a statement that the new law respects the "special characteristics" of Greece's Muslim minority, while redressing past injustices against community members "who were excluded from the legal guarantees and freedoms that all Greek citizens must enjoy".

Photo Residents of Komotini, Greece, outside the Kirmahalle Cammi mosque last month.

The parliament's move comes as the ECHR is expected to rule in February on Mrs Salli's case. The treaties stipulated that Islamic law and custom would apply to the thousands of Muslims in Greece. The Muslims in the northeastern corner of Greece near the border with Turkey are mostly ethnic Turks, although there is also a Bulgarian-speaking Pomak community. Greek courts now will have priority in all cases. When she appealed to Greek secular justice, she initially won her case.

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"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.

Thrace is the only place in Greece where the Islamic courts operate, and Muslims who live there were required to take family disputes - including divorce, child custody and inheritance matters - to Islamic clerics known as muftis who, rights groups claim, often discriminate against women.

However a number of Greek law makers believe the decision has been long overdue, a sentiment shared by Greek Minister of Education and Religious Affairs Constantine Gavroglou.

"This is not just a technical adjustment, it's a very important day for parliament. because of the broad support that is key when addressing issues of democracy and people's rights", Gavroglou told lawmakers.


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