Opinion: The mistake of targeting the minority party in Thrace

Opinion: The mistake of targeting the minority party in Thrace

The targeting, immediately after the results of the Euro-elections, of the minority Muslim “Party of Friendship, Equality and Peace” (KIEF) continues the wrong political attitude towards the religious minority of Thrace, thus segregating a part of the Greek population.

The reason for this targeting of KIEF was the total number of votes it received in the Prefecture of Rodopi, with 37.81%, and in the Prefecture of Xanthi with 25.05%, ranking it first, ahead of New Democracy, the winner of the elections, and of ruling SYRIZA, thus explaining the grey colour of the two Prefectures on the map of the results.

The articles which have been publicized accuse the Turkish Consulate in Komotini that it is trying to “Turkify” Thrace through KIEF, sowing fear and division not only in the local community which lives harmoniously but also in the whole Greek population, enhancing the far right and nationalist delusions.

In the region of Thrace the only explicitly recognized minority, and indeed a religious one, is registered in Greece under Article 45 of the Treaty of Lausanne. It has about 120,000 people, according to the 2011 census. The Muslim minority today is made up of three ethnic groups: Turkic or Turkish (according to the Turks themselves), Pomaks and Roma.

KIEF was founded in 1991 by physician Ahmet Sadik. It has participated in two European elections in 2014 and 2019, while from 1991 to 2012 it has officially supported both New Democracy and PASOK in the national elections. During this period it has supported several combinations in local elections, thus actively and democratically participating in the local communities.

Regarding the reports that speak of the “Turkification” of the Thracian region, the figures do not confirm it.

In the 2019 European elections in the Rodopi Prefecture, for example, the registered members are 118,917. The valid ballot papers amounted to 60,691 and KIEF received 23,069 votes.

In the Prefecture of Xanthi, the registered are 118,550, the valid ballots were 59,437 and the KIEF got 14,890 votes.

In other words, in the two prefectures, in a total of 237,467 voters and 120,128 valid ballots, the KIEF minority party received 37,959 votes.

In the 2014 European elections, in Rodopi there were 117,751 registered citizens and 62,012 valid ballots, and KIEF came first with 42%

In the Prefecture of Xanthi, with a total of 116,009 registered and 59,391 valid ballots, KIEF came first with 15,391 votes and 25,91%.

As clearly shown by the numbers, there was a small decrease in the number of voters for KIEF, but it is still the voters’ first choice.

The systematic targeting of the minority causes serious problems both in the local community of Thrace and in general throughout the country. The stigmatization of the different religion isolates the minority, while leaving the field open to those who wish to manipulate the minorities.

The collective characterization of the Muslim minority from extremists as “Turkish” cultivates fear towards the minority community, targeting from far-right elements, and division in the region of Thrace. The Muslim minority requires protection from extreme elements, from third party interventions, and each minority citizen should be free to be able to self-identify according to the UN Charter.

As Greek citizens, minority citizens have the same rights and obligations, irrespective of their religion. The state has a responsibility towards the minority, like any government of a democratic country has. Greece is well aware of the issues minorities face, as there are Greek minorities in many countries, such as Albania, Turkey, the Russian Federation, etc./ibna