High Court denies Kaniuk's 'no religion' petition

Justices say issue is "general topic that doesn't address any specific individual."

January 1, 2012 14:26
2 minute read.
Yoram Kaniuk

Yoram Kaniuk_521. (photo credit: Courtesy)

The High Court of Justice denied a petition filed by author Yoram Kaniuk asking that citizens have the right to be recorded as having “no religion” in the population registry.

Kaniuk asked justices to order the Interior Ministry to accept official registration statements or affidavits prepared by a lawyer as official public documents declaring a citizen’s status as “no religion” for the purpose of the population registry.

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Writer Yoram Kaniuk to be registered as ‘no religion’

In the ruling, published late Saturday night, justices Eliezer Rivlin, Asher Dan Grunis and Salim Joubran said that the issue is a “general topic that does not address any specific individual or any specific difficulty and which therefore cannot be addressed effectively [by the court].”

The High Court’s decision not to impose regulations for citizens who wish to be recorded in the population register as having “no religion” comes after the Tel Aviv District Court ruled in October that Kaniuk may be recorded as such.

Kaniuk, 81, had first petitioned the District Court after the Interior Ministry denied his request in 2010 to change his status on the population register from “Jewish” to “no religion.”

He explained that while he did not want to convert to another religion, he has never identified as a religious Jew, and that following his marriage to a Christian woman his grandson has been registered as “no religion.”

At that time, the ministry said that since Kaniuk was already registered as Jewish, a public document was required to change his religious status on the population register.

However, Kaniuk argued that as there is no authoritative body that can issue such a public document, he could not submit one to the ministry.

Significantly, while the District Court had accepted Kaniuk’s suit and ruled in favor of his request, it also noted that the Interior Ministry had done its duty correctly by refusing to change Kaniuk’s religious status without first receiving a public document.

In his petition, Kaniuk argued that the state should provide a way for citizens in his situation to obtain such a document without having to go through legal proceedings.

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