CASE OF HASAN AND EYLEM ZENGİN v. TURKEY 9th October 2007(Application no.1448/04)

In the above case the European Court found Turkey in breach of Article II of Protocol 1 (The Right to Education). The exemption procedure from Religious education classes in Turkish schools was an inappropriate means of ensuring respect for minorities.

“75. The Court notes that, according to the Government, this possibility for exemption may be extended to other convictions if such a request is submitted (see paragraph 19 above). Nonetheless, whatever the scope of this exemption, the fact that parents are obliged to inform the school authorities of their religious or philosophical convictions makes this an inappropriate means of ensuring respect for their freedom of conviction. In addition, in the absence of any clear text, the school authorities always have the option of refusing such requests, as in Ms Zengin’s case (see paragraph 11 above).
76. In consequence, the Court considers that the exemption procedure is not an appropriate method and does not provide sufficient protection to those parents who could legitimately consider that the subject taught is likely to give rise in their children to a conflict of allegiance between the school and their own values. This is especially so where no possibility for an appropriate choice has been envisaged for the children of parents who have a religious or philosophical conviction other than that of Sunni Islam, where the procedure for exemption is likely to subject the latter to a heavy burden and to the necessity of disclosing their religious or philosophical convictions in order to have their children exempted from the lessons in religion.
(c) Conclusion
77. Having regard to the foregoing, the Court concludes that there has been a breach of the applicants’ right under the second sentence of Article 2 of Protocol No. 1.”

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