Yesterday, the Court ruled in the case of Sinan Isik v. Turkey on the mentioning of religious affiliation on identity cards. Mr Isik was a member of the Alevi community, which is seen by some as a part of Islam and by others as a separate religion. His request to change the religion on his identity card from 'Islam' to Alevi was refused by the authorities. Only since 2006 a new legal provision allowed citizens to ask for a change of religion on their identity cards or even to have the entry left blank.
The Court reiterated that the freedom of religion (article 9 ECHR) also included a negative aspect, including the rigth not having to manifest one's religion or beliefs. The core of the issue for the Court was not so much the refusal to register the applicant as Alevi, but more broadly the very fact that he either had to indicate his religion or formally ask for the religion box to be left empty. That in itself, in the Court's view, violated the Convention. It seems from the judgment that this goes not only for identity cards, but also for civil registers.