"All humans are members of the same body Created from one essence"

"Human beings are members of a whole in creation of one essence and soul. If one member is afflicted with pain, other members uneasy will remain."

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Is Turkey the Only Muslim Democracy?

"Indeed, God does not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves. (Qur’an, 13:11)

"I am like a compass. With one foot I stand securely on the foundation of my faith, with the other foot I wander throughout the seventy-two nations of the world." (M. J. Rumi (1207–1273))

The history of Turkish modernization has been inextricably linked with the question of secularism. Based on the laicite of the Second French Republic, the secularization programme of modern Turkey's founder, Kemal Ataturk, entailed the full subjugation of Islam to the State, its eradication from the public sphere and its limitation into a very narrowly defined private sphere.

Ataturk had a strong attachment to western ideas. He abolished the religious courts and schools, the adoption of the Swiss civil code as the basis of the nation's judicial system. These reforms continue to form the basis for modern Turkey.

Most recently, the transformation of the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi – AKP) into the strongest proponent of Turkey’s European Union (EU) integration brought Turkey closer than ever to EU membership, challenged the monopoly which the Kemalist elite enjoyed as the representative of Western political values and suggested a
novel liberal version of secularism.

Republic of Turkey is described as the only Muslim secular state, a model for the Islamic world! Is Turkey a secular state?

The meaning of the term secular involves a neutral stance toward different religious beliefs. A secular state has no preferential links with any religion and neither promotes, nor obstruct religious belief among its citizens.

"The AKP understands ‘secularism’ as an institutional stance and method, which ensures that the state remains neutral and keeps an equal distance from all religions and ideas; differences of religion and/or different confessions and ideologies can be professed in social peace without them turning into conflict. The party thinks that, for secularism to work as an adjudicating institution (hakem muessesi) of the fundamental
rights and freedoms under constitutional protection, it needs to be supported by democracy and operate in a conciliatory environment.." (Grigoriadis, 2009)

Grigoriadis, I. N. (2009). Islam and democratization in Turkey: secularism and trust in a divided society. Democratization, 16(6), 1194-1213. doi:10.1080/13510340903271803

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