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Local authorities destroy Ottoman-era Muslim cemetery for a football pitch

The Muslims minority in north-eastern Greece is in outrage and has condemned with one voice the destruction of the Ottoman-era Muslim cemetery Horozlu in the village Peteinos in Xanthi prefecture. The local municipality of Avdira wants to turn the field where the cemetery from the 17th century is located into an entertainment park with a football pitch, areas for other sports activities and a playground for children.

Photos from the area and videos published in local news websites showed a bulldozer clearing the land and destroyed or broken tombstones lying on the ground.

As expected, the action has angered the Muslim community that has condemned the destruction of their cultural heritage.

Rodopi MP for Movement of Change KINAL, Ilhan Ahmet, wrote on Twitter: “Today, with the transformation of Horozlu Cemetery into a football field by Bulustra Municipality, we strongly condemn this disrespect to our history and cultural heritage, and demand that this unlawful decision be withdrawn by the Municipality immediately.”

The move was also condemned by the Mufti of Xanthi. He said in a statement that “such actions are not in line with the good climate that Christians and Muslims have been building in our area for so many years.”

“We will take all necessary steps for the State to intervene to correct the mistake of the local authorities,” he added.

Prompt was also the reaction of Turkey that issued a press release condemning the destruction of the historical cemetery.

“Necessary demarches were realized before Greece regarding this inhuman act, as it turns out to be carried out with the directives of the Mayor of Bulustra (Avdira),” the statement said, among others.

“We expect the Greek authorities, who responded positively to our demarches, to show the required sensitivity to finalize the investigation as soon as possible and to bring back the cemetery to its former state.”

Two local MPs, Burhan Baran (KINAL) and Huseyn Zeimbek (SYRIZA) have reportedly filed a lawsuit against the destruction and desecration of the cemetery at the prosecutor’s office of Xanthi already on Wednesday.

The Secretary General for Religious Affairs at the Education Ministry issued a statement saying:

“The destruction of cemeteries is an act that deeply hurts every person regardless of their religion. The images we saw today offend our culture. Respect for the dead is non-negotiable just as respect for our Muslim brothers in Thrace is non-negotiable.”

According to latest information, the Ministry of Culture, one of the institutions in charge, intervened, filed a lawsuit against “unknown” and halted the works on the site. The tombstones will be transferred into safe place for their protection.

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One comment

  1. What the hell is wrong with these people? That is eradicating cultural heritage. Perhaps they don’t like that heritage but it is not right. Mind you though, Turkey does the same with re-designating Orthodox churches as mosques.