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On April 26, 2016, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Turkey had violated the European Convention on Human Rights by failing to protect the freedom of religion of followers of the Alevi faith. According to the press release, Turkish nationals of Alevi faith had petitioned the Prime Minister in 2005, arguing “that the Religious Affairs Department (RAD) confined its activities to a single school of Islamic thought while disregarding all other faiths, including the Alevi faith.” They further complained that they suffered from discrimination, including the lack of recognition of their places of worship, lack of access to funding, arbitrariness in official decision-making, and the fact that the practice of the Alevi faith was not recognized as a religious public service. The Court ruled that the government’s lack of recognition of the Alevi community’s faith and their practices of worship violated their freedom of religion. It noted that “in accordance with the principle of autonomy for religious communities . . . only the highest spiritual authorities of a religious community . . . could determine to which faith that community belonged” and thus disagreed with the government’s assessment that “the Alevi faith is . . . a religious movement within Islam, more akin to the ‘Sufi orders.’” The Court concluded “that the attitude of the State authorities towards the Alevi community . . . was incompatible with the State’s duty of neutrality and impartiality.” It further found that the Alevi community fell under the legal framework of the Sufi orders, which “entailed a number of prohibitions punishable by a term of imprisonment and a fine” and posed “numerous problems with regard to the organisation of their religious life.” The Court stressed that the absence of consensus among the Alevi community regarding basic concepts of their faith “did not alter the fact that it was a religious community with rights protected by Article 9 of the Convention.” Addressing the prohibition of discrimination, the Court found that “the legal regime governing religious denominations in Turkey appeared to lack neutral criteria and to be virtually inaccessible to the Alevi faith, as it offered no safeguards apt to ensure that it did not become a source of discrimination towards the adherents of other religions or beliefs.” Therefore, it ruled that the state had violated its duty “to put in place objective and non-discriminatory criteria so that religious communities which so wished were given a fair opportunity to apply for a status which conferred specific advantages on religious denominations.”