Religion, State and Society in Turkey
in the Light of Turkey’s Proposed Accession to the European Union
After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire Kemal Atatürk modelled the new Turkish Republic on the pattern of French secularism (laicité), combining this with an emphasis on using science, efficient organisation and technology in order to achieve economic development. Atatürk transmitted his vision to the people largely through his Republican People’s Party (RPP), helping to create its policies and encouraging a network of RPP deputies throughout the country. The RPP were facilitated in their welcome by the fact that they were a clear governing force after decades of war, and often unsuccessful reform.
There was however an inbuilt tension in the new Turkish society. In the spirit of secularism the new country spoke of its ‘citizens’, who were not confined to ethnic Turks. At the same time, Turkey (as opposed to the Ottoman Empire) was now a homogeneously ethnic Turkish country, and virtually all Turks regarded themselves as Muslims. This tension meant that, paradoxically, just at the point when secularism became enshrined as state policy, Turkish citizenship became almost entirely predicated upon also being of the Muslim faith.Continue reading “Religion, State and Society in Turkey in the Light of Turkey’s Proposed Accession to the European Union”