Saturday, July 29, 2006

Atta Turk? No

"Turkey is constitutionally a secular republic. Any display of religion in public is banned since the Constitution was adopted in 1924. In a country with a 98 per cent Muslim population, this sounds improbable yet that is precisely what successive governments have tried to implement with varying degrees of success. In the early years, under Mustafa Kamal Ataturk, this was enforced with a near-missionary zeal. Islamic-style courts and seminaries were shut down, Sufi brotherhoods (tarikat) and dervish lodges (tekke) disbanded, the wearing of fez caps, veils and Eastern-style clothing banned and a Constitution modeled on western lines introduced, giving women equal rights. By 1928, Islam was no longer the state religion, polygamy was abolished, civil rather than religious marriages became the norm, Turkish was written in Roman instead of the Persian alphabet, children were given non-Arabic names and religious education was restricted, for a time even prohibited."

"Interestingly, the Islam you see being practised in cities like Istanbul, is not the Wahhabi Saudi-inspired version of Islam but a far more workaday practical Islam where the daily rhythms of life are perfectly in tune with the demands of religion. Our host, a smartly-dressed young professional in his 30s, would excuse himself at the appointed hour, offer namaz at any one of the many mosques that are found in such abundance throughout Istanbul, and return to our side in a matter of minutes."
Atta Turk? No :

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