CoE calls on Turkey to protect rights of non-Muslim minorities

Council of Europe (CoE) called on Turkey to protect the rights of non-Muslim minorities better.

"Positive steps have been undertaken to allow religious minorities to freely manifest their beliefs. However, a number of outstanding issues remain, which require the attention of the Turkish authorities," said COE Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg who published a letter addressed to the Turkish government on February 4.

Hammarberg welcomed the measures taken to strengthen the protection of places of worship, properties and religious freedom of non-Muslim minorities, and also welcomed Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's instruction to counter publications containing elements of incitement to hatred and hostility towards non-Muslim communities.

Hammarberg also recommended the opening of Greek Orthodox Seminary in Heybeliada (Halki) in Istanbul, and expressed concern over the slow implementation by Turkey of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights concerning freedom of religion.

Hammarberg said wants Turkey to find a solution about the issue of identity cards that contained an indication of religion in accordance with the decision of ECHR, Today's Zaman reported.