Wednesday, April 27, 2016

European Court Says Turkey Violated Rights of Alevi Community

In  İzzettin Doğan and Others v. Turkey, (ECHR, April 26. 2016), the European Court of Human Rights in a Grand Chamber judgment held that Turkey violated Article 9 (freedom of religion) and Article 14 (prohibition on discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights when it refused to recognize and grant support to the Alevis (the country's second largest faith group) as a separate religious community. As described in the court's press release on its decision, the lawsuit by 203 Turkish nationals asked that
the Alevi community be provided with religious services in the form of a public service; that Alevi religious leaders be recognised as such and recruited as civil servants; that the cemevis (the places where Alevis practise their religious ceremony, the cem) be granted the status of places of worship; and that State subsidies be made available to their community. Their requests were refused on the grounds that the Alevi faith is regarded by the authorities as a religious movement within Islam, more akin to the “Sufi orders”.
The court found the Art. 9 violation by a vote of 12-5 and the Art. 14 violation by a vote of 15-1. According to AFP, there have been improvements in the Alevis position since the suit was first filed in 2010, with a Turkish court in August ruling that the government should cover all the expenses of Alevi places of worship. Daily Sabah says that last year Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said that Cemevis will be granted legal status. (See prior related posting.)