Turkish high court affirms politics ban on imams

Turkey’s Constitutional Court unanimously ruled that the imams cannot engage in political activity, newspaper Habertürk said.

The ruling was issued following a review of an application by a provincial court for the lifting of restrictions on the political rights of religious personnel.

Religious officials in Turkey are prohibited from engaging in political activities, and from praising or criticising any party.

The ban concerns the personnel of country’s official religious institution, the Directorate of Religious Affairs known as Diyanet, which employs imams, muftis and other religious staff.

A 1965 law says religious personnel should be dismissed if they engage in politics.

A local administrative court in the eastern province of Erzurum applied to the high court, demanding the ban be lifted and the penalties annulled. But the Constitutional Court unanimously rejected the local court’s application.