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Perhaps the situation in Egypt will resolve itself peacefully. Or perhaps we’ll see a long stretch of public unrest before the nation finally stumbles its way into a new form of stable government. But there’s one easy prediction to make: Whatever happens, Egypt’s Coptic Christians are going to be hurt, unless the United States makes a major diplomatic effort to help them.

Today’s Zaman newspaper recently reported on ‘Hammarberg concerned about freedom of religion in Turkey’.

Today’s Zaman is one of two English-language dailies based in Turkey and reports on domestic and international coverage.

The published article can be read in its entirety below.

Hammarberg concerned about freedom of religion in Turkey


Read this article on the website of Today’s Zaman.

A Council of Europe commissioner has said that although positive steps have been undertaken to allow religious minorities to freely practice their faith in Turkey, a number of outstanding issues remain which require the attention of the Turkish authorities.


Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg said in a letter addressed to the Turkish government and published on Feb. 3 in Strasbourg that he noted with satisfaction the measures taken to strengthen the protection of places of worship, properties and the religious freedom of non-Muslim minorities and welcomes the prime minister’s instructions to counter publications containing elements of incitement to hatred and hostility toward non-Muslim communities.

The commissioner reiterated his recommendation in regards to the opening of the Greek Orthodox Theological Seminary of Heybeliada (Halki) and removing restrictions on the training of clergy in the country, including Armenian clergy. Hammarberg also expressed concerns about the slow implementation by Turkey of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights concerning freedom of religion.

“In 2007 the court found a violation by Turkey with regard to religious instruction, as it failed to meet the requirements of objectivity and pluralism and to provide an appropriate method for ensuring respect for Alevi parents’ convictions. I raised this concern already in my 2009 report and I have now asked for more information on the measures taken or envisaged by the authorities to comply with the judgment,” he stated, and requested additional information on the measures envisaged to address the absence of financial aid available to the Alevi community and the non-recognition of cemevis, Alevi places of worship. Hammarberg also called for a solution to the issue of identity cards that require indicating the bearer’s religion, in accordance with the 2010 judgment of the Strasbourg court which condemned Turkey for violating the right to freedom of religion on account of the very fact that an applicant’s identity card contained an indication of religion.

Daryal Batıbay, permanent representative of Turkey to the Council of Europe, had sent a letter on Feb. 1 to Hammarberg stating that authorities have established direct dialogue with different faith and belief groups to address their problems.

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