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NHC:İÖG Policy Paper / Alevi Cem Houses / Freedom of Religion or Belief in Turkey

Policy Papers

The refusal to recognize the cemevi [Alevi houses of worship] as a place of worship remains a serious infringement on the right to freedom of religion or belief and the identity of the Alevi, who constitute Turkey’s largest religious minority. While the right to establish places of worship is a fundamental human right, which Turkey has undertaken to protect in accordance with international human rights law, the current policies and decisions pertaining to cemevis are framed with reference to theological legitimacy, national unity and security concerns. As Turkey finds its way back to reform processes the Norwegian Helsinki Committee: Freedom of Belief Initiative would like to contribute to the public discussion from a human rights perspective.

İÖG (Turkey) / Freedom of Belief Initiative Interview with Editor on Freedom of Thought, Religion or Belief in Turkey


"The situation in which we find ourselves in Turkey these days is well known. Unfortunately people are afraid; forget about putting on a big meeting, even talking about these subjects is difficult. Still there are underground formations on the internet. But unfortunately and sadly we see that people who speak about their opinions are prosecuted."

Interview with Zekai Tanyar, the Chair of the Association of Protestant Churches


Zekain Tanyar: "The authorities lack knowledge about Constitutional and human rights and their obligations and instead their approach is often based on an attitude of “how can I block this?” The Directorate of of Religious Affairs cannot have decision making power over non-Muslim religious communities, yet, for whatever reason, some public authorities seek their approval."