Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Turkish Islam = civil Islam?

"Even though we may not consider life in the ‘country of Allah’ to be a bed of roses, Turkish women do actually enjoy the same rights as their European sisters."

"In 1924, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Turkish Republic and its first President, stunned the West. He abolished the Caliph, secularised schools, forbade Islamic brotherhoods, and, most surprisingly of all, replaced Sharia law with a civil code borrowed from Swiss law. Turkey therefore became a secular republic, preserving religious pluralism in a social fabric that forms the crossroads of all the different strains of Islam. As Gaye Petek points out, “Turkish secularism is different to the kind of secularism seen in France as it is authoritarian and imposed by those in power. Religion is reduced to an absolute minimum and controlled by authorities.” In order to create a modern Turkey, Ataturk therefore focused on a State that was strong, Jacobean, and nationalist, whilst confirming the role of the army. Today, religion is practised but does not interfere with political life."

"Perhaps the root of the problem is that Ataturk imposed his vision of society without sufficiently explaining it, and changing attitudes that have been in existence for thousands of years takes time."

caf� babel, European current affairs magazine : comment and analysis from Europe

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