ATHENS: The Greek parliament on Tuesday made the practice of Islamic sharia law in family disputes optional for the country’s Muslim minority, changing a century-old legacy.
Greece’s leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras immediately called the vote an “historic step” as it “extended equality before the law to all Greeks.”
The legislation will allow Muslim litigants to opt for a Greek court to resolve family disputes rather than appealing to muftis.
For family law matters, Greek Muslims generally seek recourse to muftis for things like divorce, child custody and inheritance.
The issue has its origins in the period after World War I, and treaties between Greece and Turkey that followed the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
The 1920 Treaty of Sevres and the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne stipulated that Islamic customs and Islamic religious law would apply to thousands of Muslims who suddenly became Greek citizens.
Greece’s roughly 110,000-strong Muslim minority mainly lives in Thrace, a poor, rural region in the northeast bordering Turkey.