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Reforms to prevent government interference with religious organisations

Hasan and Chaush v. Bulgaria  | 2000

Reforms to prevent government interference with religious organisations

The State interfered with the believers' freedom to manifest their religion

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, 26 October 2000 - © Photo Arda

Background

In 1995 the government deposed the Chief Mufti of Bulgarian Muslims, Fikri Hasan, who had been elected at a national conference. The government registered a rival as leader of the community. Mr Hasan’s staff were evicted from their offices and replaced. Mr Hasan obtained court orders stating that he was the genuine leader, but the government refused to comply with them. 

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights

The court ruled that the government had interfered with the internal organisation of the Muslim community, by replacing its elected leader. This had been arbitrary and breached the right to freedom of religion. 

Follow-up

A new law in 2002 gave the courts power over the registration religious groups, ending the government’s control of registering who was in charge. This aimed to avoid government discrimination and interference in religious groups – particularly the choice of leadership.


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