eurel     Données sociologiques et juridiques sur la religion en Europe et au-delà


  • October 2007 : The issue of secularism

Following the legislative and presidential elections which confirmed the political supremacy of the AKP (the party in power obtained 47% of the votes and its candidate Abdullah Gül was elected President of the Republic), the debates around the issue of secularism intensified once more. The opposition parties, i.e. Kemalists and militaries accuse the AKP of weakening the secular pillars of the Turkish society, a very particular interpretation of secularism characterized by the control of religion by the State. According to the AKP, secularism goes with the free practice of religion including the wearing of religious signs in public places, i.e. the Islamic veil. Following the creation of the new Government, the power in place started to write a new "civil" Constitution. The current Constitution is the result of the military takeover of 1980 with some modifications. In the new Constitution, in which religion is absent, the coercive secularism is less tough, although the text remains unmodified.

  • Religion lessons in secondary schools

The debates are also centred around the compulsory teaching of religion in secondary schools. These lessons, which are presented to all Muslim students (non-Muslims being exempted from such lessons) are strongly oriented and are exclusively based on the Hanefist version of Muslism sunnism. However, the Alevi fringe of the population (heterodox Islam derived from Chiism but close to popular Anatolian beliefs) increasingly shows its disapproval towards this obligation. The recent decision by the European Court of Human Rights which has ruled in favour of an Alevi plaintiff (decision of 9 October 2007) contributed to accelerate the search for a solution. One of the solutions would be to divide religion lessons into "religion" and "ethics" lessons.

D 27 novembre 2007    ASamim Akgönül

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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