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Freedom of Religion, the ECtHR and Grassroots Mobilization on Religious Education in Turkey

  • Ceren Özgül (a1)

This paper examines grassroots mobilizations in Turkey against the government's policies on religion and education (RE), and the potential effects of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR or the Court) on their mobilization. Specifically, it follows the ways in which grassroots actors frame their discourses of secularism and freedom of religion in education during a period when the Turkish government is aiming to increase the role of Sunni-Islam in national education, while at the same time refusing to implement ECtHR decisions regarding RE. Drawing on empirical research, it analyzes the role the ECtHR and its case law play in the diverse rights claims and discourses of three different types of mobilizations that is going on in the field of RE: (i) legal mobilization, and right to exemption and freedom from religion, (ii) political mobilization, and new discourses of pluralism and secularism, (iii) monitoring and policy-based mobilization and national and international advocacy for pluralism and equality in education.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Ceren Özgül, Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP), 49 Vasilissis Sofias Ave., 10676, Athens, Greece. E-mail:
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This text is based on data generated in the European Research Council-funded Grassrootsmobilise research programme (GA no. 338463). I thank the anonymous reviewers for their close readings of the text and their generous comments helped improve and clarify this manuscript.

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