World Bulletin / News Desk
The bill proposed the compulsory retirement of 81-year-old Mufti of Komotini Mehmet Emin Sinikoglu and 78-year-old Cemali Meco, mufti of Xanthi, citing their advanced ages.
The bill, which was prepared by the Ministry of Education under the order of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, was introduced in the parliament on Wednesday and was accepted by majority of the general assembly.
While the ruling Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), Independent Greeks (ANEL) and Democratic Alliance (DHSI) voted in favor of the bill, the main opposition New Democracy (ND) used its abstaining vote while the Golden Dawn (Hrisi Avgi) and Union of Centrists remained opposed.
According to the Greek legal procedure, the government will temporarily appoint two "mufti regents" to Komotini and Xanthi.
The Western Thrace region of Greece is home to a Muslim Turkish minority of around 150,000 people, where muftis have the jurisdiction to decide on family and inheritance matters of local Muslims.
The mufti election issue has been a chronic problem of the Muslim Turkish minority since 1991.
The election of muftis by Muslims in Greece was regulated in the 1913 Treaty of Athens between Greece and the Ottoman Empire, and was later included in the Greek Act 2345/1920.
However, Greece annulled this law in 1991 and started appointing the muftis itself.
The majority of Muslim Turks in the cities of Komotini (Gumulcine) and Xanthi (Iskece) do not recognize the muftis appointed by the state and elect their own instead, who are not recognized by Greece.