By Ozgur Korkmaz
Article 24 of the Turkish Constitution states: “Everyone has the freedom of conscience, religious belief and conviction.”
In theory, the article covers the fundamental rights of each and every citizen. In reality, it gives no rights to atheists or non-believers, and very little to those who do not belong to the Sunni Muslim majority.
The latest proof of this fact is the ban on the website of the Atheism Association, Turkey’s first association dedicated to atheism founded less than a year ago. An Ankara court earlier this week banned access to the website, citing an article in the Turkish Penal Code that forbids “provoking the people for hate and enmity or degrading them.”
Although www.ateizmdernegi.org has been banned, a mirror of the website (I will not make the courts’ job easier by giving the open address) is still accessible and contains information about the association, its activities and contacts.
Article 216 of the penal code, on which the court based its decision, allows a ban on those who “openly provoke a group of people belonging to a different social class, religion, race, sect, or coming from another origin, to be rancorous or hostile against another group.”
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