Turkey’s verdict more eminent than ECHR’s verdict on Alevis’ rights, says top cleric
AA photoAccording to Turkey’s top cleric, the Turkish nation’s verdict has precedence over a verdict by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which recently found Turkey guilty of violating Alevis’ right to religious freedom and discrimination by withholding public funds for Alevi worship houses “with no objective and reasonable justification.”
“As the president of the Diyanet [the Directorate of Religious Affairs], I believe that the joint decision that we would make about respect for each other’s rights is much higher and more eminent than the verdicts of all other courts,” Diyanet President Mehmet Görmez said on April 29.
Alevis, often described as adherents of a “liberal” form of Anatolian Islam, conduct religious practices distinct from Turkey’s Sunni majority, and are thought to make up around 15 or 20 percent of the country’s population.
Many Alevis consider the lack of an official status for cemevis to be a fundamental issue. Up to now, cemevis’ official status has been refused on grounds that mosques are said to be the only place of worship in Islam.
“I believe that the one [verdict] that we will make on each other, with all of our differences of faith and values that have made up our nation for over a thousand years, is much more important,” Görmez said when asked by reporters to comment on the top court’s ruling, during a visit to the Black Sea province of Karabük.
“I just want to state that the joint decisions that we make of each other as a nation are more important,” he reiterated.
As a result of the verdict by the ECHR, Turkey has been ordered to pay 3,000 euros in damages to each of the 203 applicants.
“The assessment made by the domestic authorities on the Alevi faith equates in particular to a refusal to recognize the religious nature of that faith. This also has numerous consequences liable to adversely affect, among other matters, the organization and continuation of the religious activities of the Alevi faith and their funding,” the ECHR ruled, adding that refusing the applicants’ claims amounted to denying the religious nature of the Alevi faith on the part of the state and “constituted an interference with the applicants’ right to freedom of religion.”