Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Religion and secularism in Turkey

"In a country where the government is so overtly secular, and where you are reminded of the secular nature of the state in a thousand ways on an almost daily basis, why does a government-issued identity card have a space for “religion?”
And why did this friend’s identity card say “Muslim” when she is one of the most unreligious people I have ever met?"

"Remember that the Republic of Turkey is little more than 80 years old, and the early vision for the nation was a radical departure from what came before it. Generally, the idea was that if you were inside the national boundaries and your allegiance was to the Republic, that was enough to be a Turk. It didn’t matter what your religious or ethnic background was."

". . . the state uses a Muslim umbrella to bring together most of the people inside its national boundaries.
The building of a secular state and the unification of a diverse population on religious grounds go together like oil and water. However, while the revolutionary concepts of allegiance to a secular state take hold, religious affiliation serves as an already-existing umbrella to hold everyone together in the meantime. The secular state’s dependence on religion for survival was built right into the revolution."

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