Europe warns Turkey about religion box on ID cards
ISTANBUL – Milliyet | 11/30/2010 12:00:00 AM |
The EU’s Council of Ministers has said Turkey could face severe sanctions if it fails to allow Alevis to declares themselves as such on ID cards.
The EU’s Council of Ministers has said Turkey must implement a European Court of Human Rights decision to allow the country’s Alevis to declare themselves as such on identity cards or it will face severe sanctions.
“The decision is obligatory,” said Rıza Türmen, a former European court judge. “Turkey … must change the relevant law.”
Alevi citizen Sinan Işık initially pursued domestic legal avenues to change the religion box on his ID card from “Muslim” to “Alevi” in 2004.
Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate, however, argued in court that Alevism was “a sect, not a religion,” leading the court to reject Işık’s request.
After losing an appeal at the Supreme Court of Appeals, Işık took his case in 2005 to the European court, which ruled that not only was the lack of an option for Alevis a violation of human rights, the very existence of a “religion” category on mandatory government identity cards was itself a violation of fundamental human rights.
The Turkish state has failed to implement the European court’s ruling and Işık’s card still reads “Muslim.” Işık recently took his case and Turkey’s noncompliance to the EU’s Council of Ministers, which supervises European court rulings and their implementation.
If the ruling remains unimplemented, Turkey could face sanctions, such as dismissal from the council, according to sources.