19 January 2006
The complexity of Turkish attitudes to religious freedom is rarely understood and addressed, even by observers who live in the country, argues Canon Ian Sherwood, an Irish priest who has been Anglican Chaplain in Istanbul http://web.archive.org/web/20080229064600/http://www.anglicanistanbul.com/ since 1989. In this personal commentary for Forum 18 News Service http://www.forum18.org he notes that "one has to keep reiterating that minorities are Turkish by modern citizenship but often are made to feel foreign, even if their customs and deeper ethnic identities predate the majority culture by many centuries." The deep-rooted problems of non-Islamic religious minorities are "principally an innate social attitude that rests very much deeper than anything that could be usefully addressed by European regulation." He comments that observers find it difficult to understand "the injustices experienced by minority religious groups." These "seem to be particular to Turkey, as Turkey struggles to face west with an Islamic and eastern inheritance."
17 May 2004
In the run-up to the August 2004 Athens Olympic Games, Dr Altana Filos presents a survey of religious freedom in Greece. This is the only European Union country to ban proselytism in its Constitution, despite condemnation by the European Court of Human Rights in 1993 for this. Dr Filos finds that there have been improvements since 2001, however, religious minorities are still banned from corporately owning places of worship and being represented in court, and the police can still prosecute religious communities who operate or build places of worship without the permission of the government and the Orthodox Church. Religious freedom is the Achilles' heel in Greece's human rights record.