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Turkey blocks website of its first atheist association
It took less than a year for a Turkish court to block the website of the country’s first official atheism association.
According to News.AZ, the Atheism Association, the first of its kind in any Muslim-majority country, was officially founded in Istanbul’s Asian-side neighborhood of Kadıköy in April 2014, Hurriyet Daily reports. However, the Gölbaşı 2nd Civil Court of Peace in Ankara has finally moved to block the association’s website, according to the group’s statement on March 3, 2015.
As of March 4, Turkish internet users could not access www.ateizmdernegi.org without using tools to bypass blockings, such as a VPN.
The court ruling cites Article 216 of the Turkish Penal Law, which forbids “provoking the people for hate and enmity or degrading them.”
The association has issued a statement to criticize the blocking. “Three months ago, the European Space Agency managed to put Philae on a one-km wide comet named 67P, which has a speed of 135,00p km/h, after a 3,907-day-long journey to a location 500 million km away. Meanwhile, courts in Turkey are still busy blocking websites, citing laws with vague expressions and trying to make a certain belief dominate the others,” it stated.
The Atheism Association also described the court’s decision as “a historic example of accumulating legislative, executive and judicial powers in one hand,” claiming that Turkey is “drifting away from the level of modern civilizations as fast as its judiciary system drifts away from reason.”