Non-Muslim Communities Face Problems with Obtaining Legal Personality

Country: Turkey

Date of incident: March 25, 2010

Various non-Muslim organised religious groups continue to deal with difficulties in Turkish society that seems to refuse to them the right to legal personality. The main implications of this problematic situation lie in their property rights, their access to justice and their ability to raise funds.

The lack of legal personality remains problematic in Turkey since it prevents several religious groups to access rights which are normally granted to minorities. These discriminated groups demand recognition in accordance with EU norms, while the Turkish authorities claim that the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, the main agreement regulating minorities in Turkey, recognizes only Jews, Armenians and Greek Orthodox communities as minorities. This means that many others, including Roman Catholics and Protestants, are left out. The 2010 Council of Europe Venice Commission recommendations, referring to freedom of religion as a fundamental right, include the possibility for religious communities to achieve legal personality and are yet to be implemented. Sources: