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Constitutional Court rules confiscation of inmate’s Quran violated freedom of religion

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Turkey’s Constitutional Court has ruled that the confiscation of a Quran from an inmate by a prison administration was a violation of freedom of religion and conscience, the Artı Gerçek news website reported on Tuesday.

The ruling was made upon a complaint filed by a former judge, Ahmet Sil, sentenced in January to six years, 10 months in prison on charges of links to the Gülen movement, after a Quran sent by family members was confiscated by the Adana prison administration when he was transferred there from Osmaniye Prison.

The prison management said “terror suspects” were not allowed to receive books sent from outside, adding that the judge could use a volume of the Quran in the prison library.

Former judge Sil filed his first objection with the Osmaniye 2nd High Criminal Court, which was rejected in 2016. He subsequently decided to apply to the Constitutional Court on the same complaint.

The Justice Ministry claimed that suspects affiliated with the Gülen movement have been using verses of the Quran to communicate and boost each other’s morale, both before a coup attempt in 2016 and afterwards.

The ministry provided as evidence to the court a letter and messages sent on mobile phone messaging app ByLock that contained verse numbers from the Quran.

Turkish authorities believe the Gülen movement orchestrated the coup attempt on July 15, 2016, although the movement strongly denies it. ByLock, according to authorities, is a messaging application used by the followers of the movement.

The Constitutional Court, on the other hand, addressed the fact that there is only one volume of the Quran in the Adana prison library, with 3,000 inmates able to borrow any book for 15 days.

The court, therefore, ruled that Sil should be able to possess his own volume of the Quran and that the prison management decision was a violation of the right to freedom of religion and conscience.

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