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date: 04 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter provides a brief history of secularism in Turkey and discusses current political issues surrounding secularism. Is Turkey a secular country? This question is entangled in the emergent process of secularism in Turkey and its unique cultural and political history. In Turkey, secularism has little social or historical basis: it has been conducted by the hand of the state, was installed from the top, and emerged through external dynamics. Ataturk’s reforms toward secularism and secularization placed strict legal controls on Islam’s institutions and practices. The RPP Party and its Kemalism rely on republicanism, nationalism, populism, étatism, secularism, and revolutionism. The JDP party is more anti-Kemalist than antisecularist. A large moderate center is present among today’s voters, who mostly affirm democratic values and much freedom of religion. It appears a democratic and secular culture has settled into Turkey, as the only politically secular country with a Muslim majority population.

Keywords: Turkey, Islam, secularization, secularism, modernism, Westernism, Kemalism, religious freedom

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