Federal Foreign Office Spokesperson on the statements by the Turkish authority Diyanet

23.06.2017 - Press release

The Federal Foreign Office Spokesperson issued the following statement at the governmental press conference on 23 June:

In light of current events, I would like to say a few words about the Federal Government’s position on freedom of religion. We were very surprised and, to be honest, quite concerned by some statements, including those of the Presidency of Religious Affairs, Diyanet, a Turkish state authority under the responsibility of the Turkish Prime Minister.

For this reason I want to take this opportunity to reject in no uncertain terms statements which are quite evidently intended to deny people in Germany the right to freely practise their religion and restrict their right to freedom of expression.

I would specifically like to add that how, where, when and in what way people pursue and practise their religion is no concern of the state. On the contrary, according to our understanding, the state certainly has no competence to pass judgement on theological issues, but rather has the obligation to protect freedom of religion to the same extent as freedom of expression and of the media. The Federal Government does so, and is deeply committed to this obligation, without exception.

Freedom of religion in Germany is a valuable asset, a fundamental and constitutional right, a right that is expressly guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights, a right that has the same status in our constitution and our political activities as freedom of expression and of the media.

Several weeks ago we hosted a large conference on the responsibility of religions for peace at the Federal Foreign Office here in Berlin. All the participants, and specifically the representatives of the major monotheistic religions, agreed on the responsibility that the religions and their representatives bear for peace in the world as well as for dialogue and exchange, and on the importance of respect for how others practise their religion.

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