The Iskece (Xanthi) province’s municipality of Bulustra (Avdira) has made an attempt to build a football field over an Ottoman-era Muslim cemetery in Horozlu (Petinos).
Greece's 150,000-strong Turkish-Muslim community are voicing their concern about the country aiming to erase the legacy of the Ottoman-Turkish history in Western Thrace, dating back as far as the 14th century.
Suspicions flared up after an attempt by the Iskece (Xanthi) province’s municipality of Bulustra (Avdira) to build a football field over an Ottoman-era Muslim cemetery in Horozlu (Petinos).
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Burhan Baran, a deputy with the leftist opposition PASOK party, said the community elected members for the board of trustees, which would be in charge of following the case, but Greek authorities still have not approved the process.
“It would be only natural to be suspicious about the reasons behind this,” he said.
Baran explained that they met competent Greek authorities, including those from the education and religious affairs ministries, and consequently achieved to halt the municipality’s plans over the cemetery.
"What I want is to protect this cemetery that is a historical heritage, one of the elements uniting us," he emphasised.
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Speaking to Anadolu, Cengiz Omer, a prominent local journalist, argued that the municipality’s attempt is part of a greater plan of eradicating properties and estates belonging to foundations of the minority community.
The head of the municipality that attempted to build the football field over the cemetery is known for his anti-Turkish sentiments, he added.
All in all, Omer said, it is an ill-intentioned plan which aims to sweep the legacy of hundred years of Turkish-Ottoman presence in the region.
The rights of the Turks of Western Thrace are guaranteed under the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, but over the decades the situation has seriously deteriorated, including Greece refusing to carry out rulings by the European Court of Human Rights.
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