0746 GMT January 19, 2020
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on Tuesday that the Alevis are victims of discrimination “without objective and reasonable justification.”
The ruling came after 203 members of the Turkish Alevi community complained to the ECHR in 2010, challenging Ankara over its refusal to officially recognize their faith.
“The court held in particular that the authorities’ refusal amounted to a lack of recognition of the religious nature of the Alevi faith and its religious practices," the ECHR said after issuing the verdict.
Turkey, it said, is "depriving the Alevi community’s places of worship and its religious leaders of legal protection and entailing numerous consequences with regard to the organization, continuation and funding of the community’s religious activities.”
The court also ordered Turkey to pay 3,000 euros (USD 3,390) in damages to each of the 203 applicants.
The applicants also demanded the recognition of Alevi religious leaders and their employment as civil servants, like mainstream Sunni Muslim imams.
They argued that the Turkish government favors Sunni Muslims over Alevis as it refuses to provide religious public services to the latter.
Ankara has refused to meet such requests, saying that the country’s religious officials regard the Alevi faith as a movement within Islam, not a faith in its own right.
Last year, the ECHR ruled that Turkey’s failure to exempt Alevi places of worship from paying their utility bills was discriminatory.
Alevism, an offshoot of Shia Islam, is mostly practiced in south and southeastern Turkey. The Alevis make up some 20 percent of Turkey’s population.