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The US report on religious freedoms underlines the ban on wearing religious Muslim headscarves in government offices and public primary schools. DAILY NEWS photo, Hasan ALTINIŞIK

The US report on religious freedoms underlines the ban on wearing religious Muslim headscarves in government offices and public primary schools. DAILY NEWS photo, Hasan ALTINIŞIK

The Turkish Government has continued to impose limitations on Muslims and other religious groups through, for example, a headscarf ban in government offices for the stated purpose of preserving the “secular state,” the U.S. State Department has said in its annual report on religious freedom.

The report emphasized problematic issues in Turkey, such as the reopening of the Greek Orthodox Halki Seminary, the headscarf ban in government offices, conscientious objection to military service, compulsory religious education and difficulties faced by Alevis in creating suitable places for worship.

 “There were reports of societal abuses and discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice. Threats against non-Muslims created an atmosphere of pressure and diminished freedom for some non-Muslim communities. Many Christians, Baha’is, Jews, and Alevis faced societal suspicion and mistrust, and some elements of society continued to express anti-Semitic sentiments,” the report read.

Wearing headscarves in gov’t offices

The report pointed out that Turkish authorities have continued their ban on wearing religious Muslim headscarves in government offices and public primary schools, although the ban was not enforced in universities and is often ignored in some workplaces.

In its report, the U.S. State Department criticized the Turkish government’s policy regarding the Greek Orthodox Halki Seminary. The report claimed the seminary “could be reopened after being closed for 40 years.”

Some positive developments in religious freedoms were also noted in the U.S. State Department’s report, including the Turkish government recently permitting the forming of new religious community foundations and allowing religious community foundations to regain property which had in previous decades been confiscated.

“The government again permitted annual religious worship services to be held in religiously significant sites that had previously been converted to state museums, such as Sumela Monastery near Trabzon, Akdamar Church near Van, St. Peter’s Church in Antakya, St. Nicholas’ Church near Demre, and the House of the Virgin Mary near Selçuk,” the report stated.

The report also mentioned positive steps made toward decreasing prejudice against graduates and applicants of imam hatip schools. Applicants no longer encountered an automatic minimal reduction in their university entrance examination grades when applying for programs outside of the theology department, allowing for greater academic freedom.

In its report the U.S. State Department criticized Turkey’s failure to recognize conscientious objection to the country’s mandatory military service. It also underlined the punishment of opposing military service due to religious beliefs with charges in military and civilian courts and possible prison sentences as a limitation of religious freedom. However, the report also denounced the clouds of suspicion hanging over the Sevag Balıkçı case, an Armenian citizen who was killed during his army service.

August/01/2012

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ahmet babagan

8/17/2012 11:20:15 AM

Dutch Turk i am an former citizen of Istanbul. Had to leave at age 6 and move to Gumulcene. Turkish nationalism states between 1953-1964, took away all my family fortune more than 20 USD million worth today and deprived me of every right in inheriting it. We have been in the courts for decades now. All our society dwindled in a matter of a few years from 130.000 to 3000 ppl currently. Instead the Turkish minority in Thrace has boomed financially and not one life has been lost, all these years.

Blue Dotterel

8/2/2012 12:24:37 AM

In addition where does the US get off interpreting the Koran on the headscarf regulartions. Some Islamic scholars deny that a head covering for women is even necessary, others claim they must be covered head to toe. The US has no business interpreting what is or is not discrimination in another state. Especially, considering the widespread profiling ofMuslims in the US.

Blue Dotterel

8/2/2012 12:18:48 AM

The Halki Seminary was closed because the orthodox Greeks wouldn't follow a national curriculum that everyone else was required to follow. It basically saw itself as above the law. Many countries have national curriculum's that are required to be followed. Turkey did nothing wrong in closing a school that would not comply with national education regulations.

Rimon Tree

8/1/2012 5:49:41 PM

@ Ozman "...mind its own business?" Why don't you tell that to the esteemed PM of Turkey and his followers? To meddle into teh affairs of others and bashing others is their favorite occupation!

Murat

8/1/2012 4:16:23 PM

This is not a condemnation of Turkey but a realistic criticism of some serious abuses of ciivil rights .Ignoring civil right abuses under a banner of anti Americanism or rationalizing such abuses because others countries also abuse civil rights are pathetic excuses.

Mark Tak

8/1/2012 4:08:40 PM

Hahaha < Greeks wont let even one mousqe open in Athens and they want Turkey to open all their religious sites, to put claim on then later when the time comes,I would say move that from the Buyuk ada to Athens, and build a nice hotel instead

Tayyar Abi

8/1/2012 2:49:37 PM

OZman is seeing CIA spies under his bed again.

Red Tail

8/1/2012 2:44:28 PM

DutchTurk. So then you think that Turks like you, livinh in Holland, should only receive free education, health care and social wellfare, if Turkey offers 50 000 Dutch to come to Turkey and to obtain world class education and health care? And all paid by the Turkish tax payers. Reciprocity you know........

OZman Cometh

8/1/2012 12:32:29 PM

Agreed DK. However I believe every country works to their own timeline. It becomes an issue when outsiders start wagging their finger. The U.S. worked out their racist/segregation policies as it suited them. Can you imagine if other countries were insisting, the nationalists would have a field day.

DutchTurk JANICAR

8/1/2012 12:27:19 PM

Halki Seminary issue is easy to solve, only if Greece is willing to solve the issues of the Turks of Western Thrace.
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