Friday, December 21, 2018

European Court:Says Greece Should Not Have Applied Sharia Law In Will Contest

In Molla Sali v. Greece, (ECHR, Dec. 19, 2018), the European Court of Human Rights in a Grand Chamber judgment held that Greece had violated Art. 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights which bans discrimination on the basis of religion when it insisted that Sharia law be applied to a wife's inheritance rights. As summarized in part by a press release issued by the Court:
On the death of her husband, Ms Molla Sali inherited her husband’s whole estate under a will drawn up by her husband before a notary. Subsequently, the deceased’s two sisters challenged the validity of the will, arguing that their brother had belonged to the Thrace Muslim community and that any question relating to inheritance in that community was subject to Islamic law and the jurisdiction of the “mufti” and not to the provisions of the Greek Civil Code. They relied, in particular, on the 1920 Treaty of Sèvres and the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, which provided for the application of Muslim customs and Islamic religious law to Greek nationals of Muslim faith....
Owing to the application of Muslim inheritance law to her husband’s estate – which law in Greece applied specifically to Greeks of Muslim faith – Ms Molla Sali had been deprived of the benefit of the will drawn up in accordance with the Civil Code by her husband, and had therefore been deprived of three-quarters of the inheritance. The fact is that if her husband, the testator, had not been of Muslim faith, Ms Molla Sali would have inherited the whole estate. As the beneficiary of a will drawn up under the Civil Code by a testator of Muslim faith, Ms Molla Sali had therefore been in a situation comparable to that of a beneficiary of a will established under the Civil Code by a testator who was not of Muslim faith, but she had been treated differently on the grounds of the testator’s religion.