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Freedom of Speech, Press and Religion

The following statement was prepared by Alliance for Shared Values based on a workshop of social scientists and journalists who analyzed the prevalent views among Hizmet participants on these topics based on their observations and available literature.

  • Freedom of speech, one of the fundamental rights in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is indispensable.
  • Acceptance of freedom of speech within international norms encompasses marginal and radical thoughts that are expressed within those norms.
  • Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are core tenets of a working democracy.
  • All restrictive practices limiting freedom of the press including political repression, self-censorship, social and employer pressures are contradictory to democracy and cannot be accepted.

Freedom of Speech and Press in Turkey

  • To eliminate restrictions on freedom of expression and the press, as well as the problems faced within this context, it is imperative for Turkey to speed up European Union (EU) accession related reforms and revise its legal code in accordance with EU standards.
  • In response to the incidents where two journalists claimed to have been allegedly detained for having criticized Mr. Fethullah Gulen, the following statement has been made by Mr. Gulen: “As I stated previously, I am in support of a comprehensive application of freedom of expression and the press. This is irrespective of whether thoughts expressed are in complete opposition, or whether they unfairly attribute events to me, I will always remain in favor of freedoms of thought, opinion, and expression.”[1]

Freedom of Conscience and Religion

  • Everyone has the right to freedom of religion and conscience. This right includes freedom to change one’s religion or belief, to worship individually or collectively, and to express one’s beliefs through teaching or practicing.
  • Representatives and followers of all minority and majority religious groups should have the freedom to make peaceful demands out of religious needs. These demands should be addressed or attended within the framework of democratic principles and universal human rights and freedoms.

(1) For a more comprehensive response statement, please see Today’s Zaman article entitled “Gülen denies role in blocking publication of Şık’s book” dated March 29, 2011, available online at http://www.todayszaman.com/national_gulen-denies-role-in-blocking-publication-of-siks-book_239467.html