chapter  11
38 Pages

Refah Revisited: Strasbourg’s Construction of Islam

ByChristian Moe

In 1998, the Turkish Constitutional Court dissolved the Refah Party as a “centre of activities contrary to the principle of secularism” and banned six of its leaders from political party activities for five years. Two of the judges dissented, citing, inter alia, the incompatibility of this measure with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). On July 10, 2001, however, a Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) found that there had been no violation of the applicants’ freedom of association under Article 11 of the ECHR. The measures were found to be prescribed by law and “necessary in a democratic society” for the pursuit of legitimate aims. Three of the seven judges dissented, finding the measures disproportionate.2 At the request of the applicants, the case was referred to a Grand Chamber of the Court. On February 13, 2003, the 17 judges of the Grand Chamber upheld the previous judgment, with no dissent-though, with two important concurring opinions.3