Commission disagree on religious teaching control
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
The AKP insists on its intention to loosen state surveillance over religious education.Deputies from multiple political parties represented at the Parliament’s Constitution Reconciliation Commission could not surpass their differences over the issue of state supervision in religious education.
The Parliament Constitution Reconciliation Commission discussed the article covering protection of freedom of conscience and religion during their Sept. 6 meeting. While the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) insisted on its intention to loosen state surveillance over religious education, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) were determined to keep such education under state surveillance in line with their parties’ pro-secularist concerns. The AKP found support for their proposal from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), however, all parties failed to reach an agreement over the article. It was decided to postpone drafting the article until all debates on the constitutional chapter covering rights and freedoms were finalized.
On Sept. 7, the commission continued debating the same article. All four parties were only able to agree on the introductory clause for the article covering the protection of freedom of conscience and religion.
“Everyone has the right to freedom of conscience, religious belief and conviction. This freedom includes believing in a religion, changing religious faith and the freedom not to believe in any religion,” the clause said.
No other consensus was reached on the article, but constitutional assurance will be provided for atheists, a move supported by the CHP and the BDP from the very beginning of the process.
During the debates the AKP resisted the inclusion of any limiting clause to the article covering the protection of freedom of conscience and religion, while the CHP and the BDP were insistent on having a clause that would cover the protection of “freedom of not believing.” The AKP’s Mustafa Şentop suggested that “freedom of not believing” was not covered by the European Convention on Human Rights either.