Court teaches a lesson in religion

Ankara, Turkey - The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the obligation for children from Alawite families to attend mandatory religion classes in Turkey is a violation of human rights, reports yesterday's Hürriyet. According to the report, an Alawite family from Istanbul who wanted to exempt their daughter from having to attend mandatory religion courses applied to the court in 2001 after having exhausted all legal remedies available to them in Turkey. Europe's top human rights watchdog ruled that mandatory religion courses are a violation of Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights covering the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. The court is expected to announce the decision publicly this fall.

Abolishing mandatory religion courses altogether might now be a possibility, according to the Hürriyet report. In any case, children from Alawite families will have to be exempted from mandatory classes as the court's decision is binding for the Turkish ministries of justice and education since international covenants ratified by Turkey overrule domestic law in the Turkish legal system.