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Kurtulmuş v. Turkey, No. 65500/01, ECtHR (Second Section), 24 January 2006 (dec.)


Ban on wearing the Islamic headscarf by a university professor while teaching. The limitation is justified in the light of the neutrality imposed by the principle of secularism in Turkey. The application, which alleges a violation of Article 9 of the ECHR, is therefore manifestly ill-founded

Normative references

Art. 9 ECHR


1. While freedom of religion is in the first place a matter of individual conscience, it also implies freedom to manifest one’s religion alone and in private or in community with others, in public and within the circle of those whose faith one shares. Article 9 does not, however, protect every act motivated or inspired by a religion or belief. It does not always guarantee the right to behave in a manner governed by a religious belief and does not confer on people who do so the right to disregard rules that have proved to be justified.

2. These principles apply also to public servants. Although it is legitimate for a State to impose on public servants, on account of their status, a duty to refrain from any ostentation in the expression of their religious beliefs in public, public servants are individuals and, as such, qualify for the protection of Article 9 of the Convention. It therefore falls to the Court, having regard to the circumstances of each case, to determine whether a fair balance has been struck between the fundamental right of the individual to freedom of religion and the legitimate interest of a democratic State in ensuring that its public service properly furthers the purposes enumerated in Article 9 § 2.