Gulbeyaz KaraHasan is a 27 year old lawyer and mother who is running for Parliament as a nominee of George Papandreou's socialist PASOK party. If elected she will be the second Muslim parliamentarian representing the Turkish minority in Greece which numbers approximately 120,000. Her candidacy has become a bit of a political football in Greece, with politicians from PASOK and New Democracy trading barbs and tripping over themselves to assure everyone that minorities share the same rights as Greeks. Perhaps they need a history lesson regarding two communities, a Turkish one in Greece and a Greek one in Turkey.
The Muslim minority in Thrace which constitutes about 1.3% of the population, was protected under the Treaty of Lausanne signed by Greece and Turkey. It's counterpart inTurkey were the Greek communities of Constantinople and the islands of Imbros and Tenedos. Greece is often taken to task for its suppposed ill treatment of its citizens of Turkish origin by the EU, Helinski Watch and the US State Department. Turks in Greece have numerous mosques, two state run Islamic centers, a Mufti with judicial powers is appointed based on recommendations of a committee of religious authorities, Muslim scholars, and community leaders. They are allowed to teach the Turkish language and own property. Their numbers have increased significantly from what they were in 1922.
On the other hand, the Greeks of Istanbul, Imbros and Tenedos are almost extinct except for a few scared old people. Those that weren't terrorized into leaving by the anti-Greek riots of 1955, were gradually pushed out through ruses such as the Varlek Vergisi or wealth tax. Inability to pay this exorbitant tax often resulted in the confiscation of Greek owned property and occasionally prison sentences at hard labor. The Patriarch of Constantinople, who represents millions of Orthodox Christians and who is part of an unbroken line of religious leaders that dates back over a thousand years and I might add before the arrival of the Turks themselves in the lands they presently occupy, is under constant pressure to leave Turkey. The same country that is now chomping at the bit to take its "rightful" place as a member of the EU and to be considered "Western", recently denied the Pope permission to visit the Patriarch of Constantinople. Patriarch Bartholomew's position is increasingly untenable, he is constantly the object of demonstrations by right wing Turks, not to mention the target of violent acts. The position of Patriarch can only be filled by a Turkish citizen. The Turkish government closed the Theological Seminary at Halki in 1971. It remains closed supposedly because the Patriarchate had the temerity to refuse incorporation of the Seminary under a secular Turkish University. In so doing, the Turks are denying Orthodox Christians the ability to replace the aging bishops from which the Patriarch must be chosen.
Ms. KaraHasan is a lucky woman, after all imagine if she had been a Greek woman born in Turkey.