Muslim widow fights to undo sharia law in Greece

by Will Hall, |
A Greek and an EU flag flutter outside the Foreign Ministry in Athens March 12, 2015. Greece is one of 28 members of the European Union, a politico-economic system of supranational institutions and intergovernmental negotiated decisions by the member states. | REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

ATHENS, Greece (Christian Examiner) – In a country where 98 percent of the population relates to Orthodox Christianity, a Muslim widow is battling the Greek Supreme Court which used a foreign treaty with Turkey to justify imposing a local sharia ruling that denied her claim to her late husband's estate.

Molla Sali's husband died in 2008 and his will, registered with a Greek notary, left everything to her.

But her in-laws, who also live in Greece, challenged her rights using sharia, or Islamic law, in a case heard by one of three Muslim officials appointed by the Greek government to function as judges regarding family matters among this religious minority. This strange legal arrangement resulted from the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne between Greece and Turkey which was crafted to protect minority communities of Turks and Greeks in each, respectively, and allow these populations to live at least in part according to their ethnic and religious customs.

Sali took her case to civil court and won, but the dispute made its way to the Greek Supreme Court, which ruled in 2013 that the international treaty with Turkey required Greece to allow Muslims to settle matters of inheritance according to Islamic law.

But Sali says she is a Greek first and wants her case determined by Greek code and not religious tenets.

Now she is appealing her case to the European Court of Human Rights which decides alleged violations of the European Convention, an international treaty entered into force in 1953 to establish certain rights and freedoms among citizens of member states.

Reportedly, Sali is the first Greek Muslim woman to dispute a sharia ruling before the ECHR.

Based on reporting in Le Monde and The Guardian.