Turkish Muslims of Western Thrace

Greetings from Nanjing, host of the 4th UN World Habitat Forum which I attended the opening ceremony this morning and two sessions on housings in the afternoon. The opening ceremony was fun with a number of performances in between the speeches. Something which we have not or maybe will not be able to do back in Brunei.

I walked through the exhibitions or rather quickly walked past most of the exhibits stopping only at the stalls which had documents which is of interest to my work such as UNHabitat etc. One Chinese stopped me to take a photograph with me. This is not unusual, I have this knack of people wanting to take a photo with me. I have a bunch of photographs in Iran when a group of Iranian students stopped me to have a photograph with me. In Vietnam too. Must be my superplus++ size... Anyway, among the stalls, I was quite surprised to see one particular stall which was highlighting the plight of the Muslim Turks in Greece.

The stall claimed that the Muslim Turks in Greece have been discriminated by the Greek Government and that their mosques built on wakaf lands had their lands taken by the government. From what I can gather, the Turks were allowed to stay in Greece under the Treaty of Lausanne signed in 1920s where Greeks were also allowed to stay in Turkey. The Turks numbering between 80,000 to 120,000 depending on whose statistics you read, stay in an area called Western Thrace thus they are known as Turkish of Western Thrace. The Greeks argued that the agreement talked about Muslim minority and not about Turkish minority and hence the argument.

I don't know enough about the politics of the place to make an educated judgment. However judging by the mosques that are involved in the leaflet issued by the Turks include mosque such as the Cinar Mosque built in 1775, the Central Mosque built in 1608, the Tabakhane Mosque built in 1530, Kara Mehmet Mosque built in 1406 and the Kayali Mosque built in 1730 do show that the Muslims have been there for a long time.

Though recently, the European Court of Human Rights (March 2008), Greece had been convicted because of their actions. So the Turks have been proven to be right. I'll stop there.


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