Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

The increasingly authoritarian Turkish regime has been caught acting with “prejudice” against Christians even though it ratified the European Convention on Human Rights, and now a court has ordered the NATO ally to clean up its act.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled that Turkey violated the treaty’s protection of a right to association by denying a Christian group legal recognition.

That meant they could not obtain property or hold meetings.

Turkish authorities, according to ADF International, which argued the case, “granted some religious groups legal entity status but denied others.”

“The law and procedures in Turkey, therefore, aren’t clear and appear to prejudice Christian places of worship.”

The international court’s ruling means that “religious minorities in Turkey must have the right to freely practice their religion.”

“In its ruling, the European Court of Human Rights established today, yet again, that everyone has the right to choose their religion and to express it publicly and privately. This includes the freedom to do so in community with others. In its judgment today, the court has clearly recognized that the approach taken by the Turkish officials and courts fell short of the standard set out in the convention. Religious minorities in Turkey must have the right to freely practice their religion as much as any other person,” said Robert Clarke, spokesman for ADF International.

The ruling might pose an issue for Turkey, since ForeignAffairs.com reports it is aggressively affirming Islam internally and externally.

The report explains, “In countries from Latin America to sub-Saharan Africa, Turkey is building mosques, financing religious education, restoring Ottoman heritage – and advertising its unique brand of Islamic leadership.”

That’s a fusion of Sunni Islam and Turkish nationalism.

“In the minds of those executing the policy, Turkey, as heir to the Ottoman Empire, is Islam’s last fortress and the natural leader of a revival of Muslim civilization.”

It’s already caused ripples, the report said.

“The nationalist tinge in Turkey’s religious diplomacy could stand in the way of its success. It already irks European countries, which see Turkey’s actions as polarizing and detrimental to the integration of Turkish immigrants, and Middle Eastern states, which view Turkey through an imperial lens,” the report said.

DW.com reported that Turkey’s nationalist Islamic push is creating backlash even within its borders.

“There is religious coercion in Turkey,” a computer scientist, Ahmet Balyemez, said in the report. “People ask themselves: Is this the true Islam? When we look at the politics of our decision-makers, we can see they are trying to emulate the first era of Islam. So, what we are seeing right now is primordial Islam.”

Uzay Bulut wrote bluntly just weeks ago at the Gatestone Institute that Turkey is aiming to “head a global Islamic union governed by Shariah.”

“Turkey appears to be accelerating its endeavor to establish an Ottoman-style Islamic government encompassing several Muslim nations,” the report said. “One such effort was apparent in early November at the second ‘International Islamic Union Congress,’ in Istanbul. … The self-described aim of the congress is ‘to make determinations on an academic and political ground with regard to current problems in world politics, particularly in Islamic world geography, and to offer solutions.”

ADF International said that while Turkey ratified the European Convention on Human Rights in 1954, it recently was caught denying certain religious groups the freedom to worship together in their own building.

“Christian groups in particular have struggled to gain the necessary legal status to acquire their own building,” ADF explained. “The problem is that Turkish law prohibits minority religions from attaining legal personality unless associated with the Sunni Muslim faith. This essentially bars the establishment of houses of worship, robbing Christians of their ability to have fellowship with one another, worship together, and act collectively. This is a clear violation of the European Convention, which allows religious groups the right to meet as an association.”

It continued: “In the past, Turkish authorities granted some religious groups legal entity status but denied others. The law and procedures in Turkey, therefore, aren’t clear and appear to prejudice Christian places of worship.”

The immediate case was launched in 2011 at the international level by a church that had been denied the right to register as a legal entity.

ADF International said the court’s panel of judges was unanimous in its ruling that, “like political parties, associations and foundations created for various purposes, including the …proclamation and teaching of a religion … or the affirmation of a minority conscience are important for the proper functioning of democracy.”

The Christian group had started its registration process in 2004 but was rejection, and that decision was affirmed by Turkish judges.

“Many religious freedom organizations have documented a strong rise in religious persecution in Turkey. Christians face difficulties when sharing their faith and in other areas such as employment and property rights,” ADF International said.

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.