For Minority Status, Alevis Appeal to European Court

Turkey, under the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, considers only non-Muslim groups as a minority and regards the Alevis as a part of the mainstream.

For Minority Status, Alevis Appeal to European Court

Wishing to be granted minority status in Turkey, certain Alevi associations allegedly sent a statement to a European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) case against compulsory religious instruction in Turkey stating "Alevism is completely different from Islam."

Cem Foundation Coordinator for Europe Alisan Hizli stated Turkey, which recognizes only non-Muslim communities as a minority, may have to grant a minority status to the Alevis with a possible definition of "religious minority" to come from the ECHR and said this was the very goal of those who filed the case.

Pir Sultan Abdal Associations Federation President Kazim Genc, also the lawyer of the case with the ECHR, rejected the allegations, whereas ECHR sources avoided commenting on the ruling in writing.

Alevi circles emphasized the issue went beyond the Alevis and had acquired a scope that involved everyone and maintained the importance of the issue had not be understood.

The Aleviyol website mentioned concerns on the case and termed the event as a "historical mistake."

Lawyer Kazim Genc maintained that Alevism differed from Sunni Islam in faith and worshipping practices during his defense on Oct. 3 in Strasbourg.

Claiming the Alevism had a worldview different from that of Islam, though largely affected and fed by Islam, Genc also alleged that Turkey's Ministry of Religious Affairs considered Alevism as a kind of "heresy."

At the court, Genc asserted that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which he claimed to have "Islamic roots," had put more pressure on Alevis.

Alisan Hizli: I have been warning for two years but nobody listened

Cem Foundation Coordinator for Europe Alisan Hizli stated he had been talking about the issue for two years but nobody understood its importance.

"The case with the ECHR has already started to be considered as a victory by those pretending to be Alevis and defending the view that Alevism differs from Islam," Hizli said, adding the court would rule in this way unless Turkey took a serious step.

"This ruling will push the Alevis to the European Union like the Greek Cypriots and Armenians and cause big splits among Alevis. Everybody who loves Turkey must oppose this ruling," Hizli said.

According to the information Zaman obtained from high-level sources, the ECHR will rule in principle on whether or not the plaintiff Eylem Zengin's educational right and freedom of religion and conscience was violated. However, in this first case on the issue, the Strasbourg Court is expected to express view on the definition of the Alevis in legal terms.

In an acceptability verdict announced by the ECHR 4th Chamber on June 6, it was stated the Alevi faith and worshipping practices differ from those of Sunni Islam and Alevism is rejected in Turkey's compulsory religion course books.

The questions asked by the judges to Munci Ozmen defending the Turkish government in the hearing on Oct.3 resulted in opinions in ECHR circles that the ruling would be against Ankara. However, the court asked the parties' opinions to solve the case on friendly terms.

If the ruling is against Turkey, it is expected to be asked to make changes in its religion course curriculum or make the religion lesson optional.

The Process in the ECHR Case

- In 2001, Hasan Zengin, the father of seventh grade student Eylem Zengin filed a complaint with the Istanbul Governor's Office, Istanbul Administrative Court and with the Council of State claiming that his daughter was being forced to take religion lessons in which only the Sunni version of Islam was taught.

- Following that court's ruling against him, Zengin appealed to the ECHR in January 2004.

-The ECHR put the application to the agenda in November 2004 and asked Turkey questions on the compulsory religion course.

-Turkey gave a 20-article defense in April 2005.

-The hearing of the case was held on Oct. 3 2006.

-The ruling is said to be in writing at the moment.

Replying to questions on the issue, Turkey's Minister of Religious Affairs Ali Bardakoglu said: "Discussing whether Alevis are Muslim or not is an insult against Islam. All Alevis are Muslim. Nobody should be deceived by the West and claim that Alevism is outside the fold of Islam. The course may be corrected if there is a mistake in the content. If children have no time for a two hour-religion course, it means they have no time for anything."

Concerning the attempts to abolish compulsory religious instruction, Ministry of Religious Affairs Deputy Head Professor Sevket Aydin had said, "Rejecting compulsory religion lessons means defending ignorance in religious terms. I do not think any of our Alevi brothers will support this."

EU asks Turkey for more inclusive view of Lausanne Treaty

The 2006 Turkey Progress Report released last week by the European Commission asked for a wider interpretation for the Treaty of Lausanne.

"Turkey's approach to minority rights remains unchanged. According to the Turkish authorities, under the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, minorities in Turkey consist exclusively of non-Muslim religious communities. The minorities associated in practice by the authorities with the Treaty of Lausanne are Jews, Armenians and Greeks. However, there are other communities in Turkey which, in the light of the relevant international and European standards, could qualify as minorities," the report said.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16