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Parental Religious Rights vs. Compulsory Religious Education in Turkey

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Despite parents having primary responsibility, it remains the State's duty to ensure its citizens' education. The orientation of the State's education can be secular can religious; however, the State – having the discretion on curriculum – should comply with human rights principles by promoting pluralism and refraining from indoctrination. In this respect, discussions around religious education have been, and are, highly controversial. This has especially been the case for countries such as Turkey, which have pronounced religious minority groups in their territories. In this regard, the Alevis of Turkey, as the largest religious minority in the country, have been the main actors of a long lasting legal struggle to strive for respect for their freedom of religion as well as parental religious convictions. This article aims to answer to what extent Alevis in Turkey can assert their parental right to religious education through invoking international human rights law, particularly under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights.

Affiliations: 1: Asst. Professor, Dr. Sabanci University, Istanbul, Turkey; 2: Lawyer, Registry of the European Court of Human Rights


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