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Can a new constitution solve Turkey’s religious freedom problems?

TURKEY: Can a new Constitution solve religious freedom problems?

By Mine Yildirim, Researcher at the Institute for Human Rights at Åbo Akademi University
Following the AKP’s general election victory, political attention in Turkey has turned to the long-awaited new Constitution, Forum 18 News Service notes. It appears that a consensus may exist among Turkey’s liberals, leading civil society organisations, religious minorities, legal academics, and the main opposition party, the CHP, that the new Constitution should uphold the right to freedom of religion or belief. Many would not object to this as an ideal, but attention to the detail of the proposals is essential. The AKP’s past record would suggest that any predictions of its response should be cautious. Indeed, it is unclear what the AKP itself would propose. It is vital that the new Constitution enshrines full guarantees of freedom of religion or belief for all, fully in line with Turkey’s international human rights obligations. But on its own – without good laws, regulations and state actions – a Constitution can only have a limited impact in generating practical change in the daily lives of people belonging to minority religious and belief communities.


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