fbpx

Western Thrace, Contested Space: The Turks of northeast Greece

Qatari state-owned Al-Jazeera has released a new film titled ‘Western Thrace, Contested Space: The Turks of northeast Greece’. It is little surprise that Qatar, a Salafi dictatorship that provided logistical and financial support for ISIS, has supported Turkish propaganda to claim that the Muslim minority in Greece’s Western Thrace region are discriminated against by the Greek state.

Qatar is Turkey’s only ally in the Middle East as they both champion the radical Muslim Brotherhood cause, and as Turkey failed to discredit Greece with its fake news through the Turkish state-owned TRT network during last month’s migration crisis, as reported by Greek City Times, it has now resorted to the much more successful Qatari network to disseminate anti-Greek rhetoric.

The Al-Jazeera film claims that there are 150,000 Turks in the Western Thrace, which could not be further from the truth and is Turkish propaganda that is continually repeated.

There are 150,000 Muslims in Western Thrace, but this does not make them automatically ethnically Turkish. What the Qatari propaganda outlet failed to mention is that within that 150,000 number are not only ethnic Turks, but also Muslim Roma, Slavic Muslims known as Pomaks, and yes, as many as you might not even know, ethnic Greek Muslims who converted during the Ottoman era but maintained their Greek identity.

The Greek government in 1999 reported that in Western Thrace, 50% of the Muslims are Turkish, 35% are Pomaks and 15% are Roma. Of course Al-Jazeera ignored this fact and continued to repeat the mantra that all 150,000 Muslims in Western Thrace were Turkish, denying the identity of Greek Muslims, Romas and Pomaks to serve Ankara’s agenda against Greece.

Early in the film, one ethnic Turk interviewed by Al-Jazeera says “You feel forced to hide, not to reveal, or not to be able to freely express your name, your identity. This is how it is to be a Turk here.” He makes this claim while posing in front of a Turkish flag and a photo of the perpetrator of the Greek genocide, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Claiming they are forced to hide their identity while many of the speakers pose in front of images of someone responsible for the slaughter of over a million Greeks cannot be anymore contradictory.

Somehow, not seeing the irony, the very next scene after the ridiculous claim made that in Greece Turks cannot “freely express” their identity, it cuts to a cultural association where children are dressed in their traditional Turkish costumes, doing their traditional Turkish dances, to traditional Turkish music. Didn’t the video editors of Al-Jazeera notice this contradiction?

Then Çiğdem Asafoğlu, the leader of the Party of Friendship, Peace and Equality, says “The main problem here is denial of our identity. We define ourselves as Turkish, which we undoubtedly are. However, the Greek state doesn’t accept this fact. They talk about Greek Muslims, a definition we will never accept.”

However, what Asafoğlu and Al-Jazeera propagandist Glenn Ellis fail to mention is that the recognition of a Muslim minority in Western Thrace, and not ethnic identities, is a result of the 1923 Peace Treaty of Lausanne. Part VI Article 2 of the Treaty of Lausanne, as published in English by the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, states: “Moslems established in the region to the east of the frontier line laid down in 1918 by the Treaty of Bucharest shall be considered as Moslem inhabitants of Western Thrace.”

Effectively Asafoğlu and Al-Jazeera are defaming Greece for following an international peace treaty with Turkey. Who would have thought that those who defend Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, someone who has supported jihadists in Syria and Libya, converts formerly Christian Orthodox churches into mosques as reported by Greek City Times, and butchers his own citizens in eastern Turkey, is trying to defame Greece.

Greece has followed the Treaty of Lausanne as it respects international law, which is why the Muslim population of Western Thrace is growing. Turkey on the other hand disgraced the Treaty that was supposed to protect the Greek minority in Constantinople. In 1955, Turkish intelligence spread the false rumour that the birth house of Atatürk in Greece’s second city of Thessaloniki was destroyed. This rumour led to Turkish mobs conducting a pogrom against the Greek minority in Constantinople, leading to the decimation through violent means of the city’s 120,000 Greeks. Today there are only 3,000-4,000 Greeks in Constantinople.

In addition to the propaganda piece, Ellis highlights that a frustration of the Muslim community in Western Thrace is that they cannot appoint their own religious leaders. As he is a propagandist for Al-Jazeera, he of course did not highly the fact that the Turkish state also appoints religious leaders to their mosques.

Ellis also propagates that schools are being shut down because of discrimination, but does not mention that between 2009 and 2014, 1,705 schools all across Greece shut down because of austerity measures during the economic crisis. Many schools after 2014 also shut down because of a lack of funding, but highlighting the reality of austerity Greece does not fit the propaganda narrative, so it was omitted to be mentioned by Al-Jazeera, just as the conditions of the Treaty of Lausanne were, or the fact that only about 50% of Muslims in Western Thrace are Turkish.

As Al-Jazeera is the mouthpiece of a regime that imprisons homosexuals, funds ISIS and other terrorist organisations, has the punishment for blasphemy set as death, and ranked 127 out of 149 countries for gender equality, we cannot be surprised that it has viciously defamed Greece to serve Erdoğan’s agenda after Turkish state-owned TRT utterly failed to defame Greece only last month.

However, just as TRT were caught out with their lies, so has filmmaker Glenn Ellis and Al-Jazeera.

X