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04/17/2022 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – Turkey’s Constitutional Court ruled after 13 years that Turkey’s compulsory religion class violates religious freedom and human rights. The Islamic classes are mandatory, though there are currently provisions that allow Christians and Jews to be exempt. Religion classes were voluntary until the 1980s.

“This is a delayed decision, but it is a step in the right direction,” said Orhan Kemal Cengiz, a Turkish human rights lawyer. “Local courts often ignore the ECHR decisions, but they now have to heed the Constitutional Court’s.” Turkish courts also continue to ignore the demands of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to release Osman Kavala.

The longstanding view of anti-Christian and anti-minorities in Turkey is perpetuated by President Erdoğan, who criticized interfaith dialogue efforts in the past, saying there cannot be a dialogue between Islam and Christianity in a November 2016 speech. Turkish prosecutors cited interfaith dialogue with Jews and Christians as criminal evidence against the Gülen movement in early March 2022.

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