European Court of Human Rights decision unrelated to current gov’t, Justice Ministry clarifies

A European Court of Human Rights decision recognising the inheritance rights of a Greek Muslim citizen relates to events before the current government’s groundbreaking law giving Muslim communities access to Greek courts over religious law, or sharia, the Justice Ministry said on Thursday.

The Ministry was responding to a decision by the European Court that said Greek law should have applied, instead of sharia, on the inheritance rights of a widow of a Muslim Greek, Molla Sali, in a case dating to the years 2008-2013. The case came under review before the government of Alexis Tsipras passed a law in January 2018 that allows members of the Muslim minority the option of taking cases to a Greek court if they do not agree to resort to a local Islamic law official to resolve them.

The Justice Ministry said in a statement on Thursday that the European Court’s ruling “has unfortunately become yet again cause for the spread of false news by a sector of the press and the opposition.”

The Ministry further added that not only is the case not a criticism of current Greek law, but the Court actually “congratulates the Greek government for voting Law 4511/2018 that allows members of the Muslim community the option of selecting whether to resort to the Civil Code or to sharia, and (the European Court of Human Rights) explicitly notes that the new law does not involve the specific case, since that case was ruled upon by the national courts on the basis of the former legal framework.”

Therefore, the Ministry said, “whoever tries to distort the European Court’s ruling in the above case are the same people who for years took no measures to protect the rights of the members of the Muslim minority in Thrace, and are the very same ones who once again prompted Greece’s condemnation before the European Court of Human Rights.”