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Izzettin Doǧan and Others v. Turkey, No. 62649/10, ECtHR (Grand Chamber), 26 April 2016

Type Judgment
Case number 62649/10


Difference in treatment between members of Alevi faith and Turks Citizens adhering to majority branch of Islam.

Normative references

Art. 9 ECHR
Art. 14 ECHR


1. In the absence of relevant and sufficient reasons to justify the refusal of official recognition which would have enabled the members of the Alevi community to effectively enjoy their right to freedom of religion, the defendant State had exceeded its margin of discretion. For this reason, the applicants received less favourable treatment than the beneficiaries of the public religious service despite being in a comparable situation.

2. Whatever form of cooperation it chose with the different religious communities, the State had a duty to implement objective and non-discriminatory criteria so that those religious communities who wished to do so would have a fair opportunity to apply for a status conferring specific advantages on religious denominations.
Given the existence of an Alevi community deeply rooted in Turkish society and history, the importance for that community of being legally recognised, the government's inability to justify the manifest imbalance between the status conferred on the majority view of Islam in the form of a public religious service and the almost total exclusion of the Alevi community from that service, and the absence of compensatory measures, the choice made by the respondent State appeared to the Court to be manifestly disproportionate to the aim pursued. The difference in treatment to which the applicants were subjected therefore had no objective and reasonable justification.
(The applicants, who are followers of the Alevi Islamic faith, petitioned the Turkish Prime Minister requesting that services connected with the practice of the Alevi faith constitute a public service, that Alevi places of worship be recognised as places of worship, that Alevi religious leaders be employed as civil servants and that special provisions be made in the budget for the practice of the Alevi faith).