Monday, October 7, 2013

Promised legal reforms disappoint Turkey’s religious minorities

Latest reforms positive but inadequate, say minority groups

An empty classroom in the Greek Orthodox Halki Seminary
 near Istanbul, closed by the Turkish government since 1971
World Watch Monitor
The Turkish government’s long-awaited “democratisation package” of reform laws announced this week has met with considerable disappointment among Turkey’s minority religious communities.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan revealed on Monday (September 30) a broad array of reform laws, drafted by his ruling Justice and Development Party for parliamentary debate and approval.
Although public focus remained on legal changes in the Kurdish resolution process, electoral reform and lifting the headscarf ban in public offices, there were some positive, if symbolic, steps affecting the nation’s non-Muslim communities.
But without question, the religious minorities were expecting more tangible changes to correct their status as second-class citizens:  most prominently, the re-opening of the Orthodox Church’s Halki Seminary, along with recognition of the Alevis as a distinct faith community.

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