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Turkey: The fundamental problem and how it might be solved

ICC Note:

“No community independently exists or has ever existed in Turkish law – whether Muslim, Jewish, Armenian Apostolic, Greek Orthodox, Syriac Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, Baha’i, Jehovah’s Witness, or any other. This leads to bizarre situations, such as communities being unable to prove they are liable for the taxes they already pay,” Forum 18 News Service reports.

By Dr. Otmar Oehring
 
2/7/2011 Turkey (Forum 18 News Service) – Turkey should allow full legal status for all religious and belief communities, Otmar Oehring of the German Catholic charity Missio, argues in a commentary for Forum 18 News Service. No community independently exists or has ever existed in Turkish law – whether Muslim, Jewish, Armenian Apostolic, Greek Orthodox, Syriac Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, Baha’i, Jehovah’s Witness, or any other. This leads to bizarre situations, such as communities being unable to prove they are liable for the taxes they already pay. It also raises the question of whether Turkey really is – as officials repeatedly claim – a secular state. Achieving legal status for all would not solve all problems, but the changes in official and social attitudes necessary would help resolve the other problems. To achieve this, both the Constitution and the Civil Code must be changed. Anything less than directly resolving the fundamental problem – independent legal status – will fail to meet Turkey’s human rights obligations and aspirations.

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