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Court rules Turkey violated freedoms of church group

by Cara Bentley

In 2004, Erkin Altinkaynak and five others were denied the right to legally register their religious organisation, Tükiye Yedincigün Adventisterli Vakfi (Foundation of the Seventh-day Adventists), in Instanbul.

Their request was rejected on the grounds that the objective of the organisation was to meet the religious needs of people embracing the faith of Seventh-day Adventists and this was contrary to provisions of the Turkish Civil Code which prohibits the foundations whose purpose is to support members of a particular community.

This rejection was upheld in a further judgement but in 2011, Mr Altinkaynak asked religious liberty group ADF International for legal support, who then brought it to the European Court of Human Rights, claiming their right to expression, religion and peaceful assembly was being violated.

On Tuesday, this case reached its conclusion and it was decided Turkey had violated the right to freedom of association by denying the church's recognition.

Robert Clarke, Director of European Advocacy for ADF International, who represented the applicants in the case, said: "In its ruling, the European Court of Human Rights established today, yet again, that everyone has the right to choose their religion and to express it publicly and privately.

"This includes the freedom to do so in community with others. In its judgement today, the Court has clearly recognised that the approach taken by the Turkish officials and courts fell short of the standard set out in the Convention. Religious minorities in Turkey must have the right to freely practice their religion as much as any other person".

Listen to Premier's Eno Adeogun speaking with Robert Clarke from ADF International:

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