Compulsory Religion Classes Illegal

March 3, 2008

Author: Staff Writer

Source: The State

Wire Service: AP

A Turkish high court ruled Monday that religious education classes geared toward Sunni Muslims should not be compulsory, a major victory for a Shiite branch of Islam.

The ruling affecting Turkey's Alevi community is also likely to please the European Union which has made religious liberties a condition for Turkey's membership bid. The EU has been pressing Turkey to address Alevi claims.

The Alevis are followers of a tradition rooted in Shiite beliefs, and have long complained of discrimination and forced assimilation through mandatory courses on Sunni Islam in schools. An overwhelming majority of Turks are Sunni.