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Court approves Turkish parent’s appeal for exemption from compulsory religion course

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An İstanbul court recently ruled in favor of a parent’s appeal for exemption from compulsory religion courses in Turkish schools in accordance with previous rulings of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).

Selnur Aysever applied to her child’s school for an exemption from religious courses, but when the school administration asked for a document proving that the family is either Christian or Jewish, both religious minorities in Turkey, Aysever went to court, T24 reported on Thursday.

Despite an ECtHR ruling against Turkey for forcing a student to take compulsory religion courses, composed predominantly of education on Islam, the courses are still required across the nation in primary and secondary schools.

In response to the parent’s lawsuit against the İstanbul Directorate of Education, the court ruled that based on ECtHR rulings and the Turkish Constitution, which stipulates freedom of religion, parents do not need to prove their religion to ask for an exemption from religion courses.

The court cited a 1998 decision by Turkey’s Constitutional Court that held it was unconstitutional to force students to receive religious education in Islam instead of a more pluralist knowledge of religion. The court also stated that the government should be impartial towards religion.

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