Religion in Turkey


Religion in Turkey

Islam is the largest religion of Turkey. More than 99 percent of the population is Muslim, mostly Sunni. The Alevi community, a group of non-orthodox Muslims, make up 10–25 percent of the population. Christianity (Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic) and Judaism are the other religions in practice, but the non-Muslim population declined in the early 2000s. [ [http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/country,,,COUNTRYPROF,TUR,4562d8cf2,46f9135d0,0.html Country Profile - Turkey , January 2006, United States Library of Congress, 2008-01] [cite web |url=https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/tu.html |title=Turkey|work=World Factbook|year=2007|publisher=CIA] [cite book|title=The Alevis in Turkey: The Emergence of a Secular Islamic Tradition|first=David|last=Shankland|publisher=Routledge (UK)|location=|year=2003|id=ISBN 0-7007-1606-8 |url=http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0700716068&id=lFFRzTqLp6AC&pg=PP1&lpg=PP1&dq=Religion+in+Turkey&sig=qrG576JrBxJ4LIBqD-41ALytcAI#PPP1,M1 |page=20|quote=Some [researchers] claim that the number of Alevis is as high as 30 per cent of Turkey's population. Others state that there are as few as 10 per cent. My own feeling ... offered purely tentatively, is that the proportion of Turkeys' population that today holds itself to be Alevis is ... perhaps nearer to 15 per cent.] [cite web|url=http://www.unfpa.org.tr/turkey/countryinfo.htm |title=Turkey - A Brief Profile|publisher=United Nations Population Fund|accessdate=2006-12-27|year=2006]

Islam arrived in the region that comprises present-day Turkey, particularly the eastern provinces of the country, as early as the 7th century AD. Turkey also has numerous important sites for Judaism and Christianity, being one of the birth places of the latter. As of today, there are thousands of historical mosques, churches and synagogues throughout the country which are still active.

Turkey has a secular constitution, with no official state religion. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3225651.stm Headscarf row goes to Turkey's roots. BBC News. 2003-10-29.] ] The strong tradition of secularism in Turkey is essentially similar to the French model of laïcité, in which the state actively monitors the area between the religions. The constitution recognizes the freedom of religion for individuals, whereas the religious communities are placed under the protection of the state and can't become involved in the political process (e.g. by forming a religious party) or establish faith-based schools. No party can claim that it represents a form of religious belief; nevertheless, religious sensibilities are generally represented through conservative parties. Turkey prohibits by law the wearing of religious headcover and theo-political symbolic garments for both genders in government buildings, schools, and universities; [cite news|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/5414098.stm |title=The Islamic veil across Europe|author= |authorlink= |work=British Broadcasting Corporation|accessdate=2006-12-13|date=2006-11-17] the law was upheld by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights as "legitimate" in the "Leyla Şahin v. Turkey" case on November 10, 2005. [cite web|url=http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/view.asp?item=3&portal=hbkm&action=html&highlight=Sahin%20%7C%20Turkey&sessionid=11294215&skin=hudoc-en |title=Leyla Şahin v. Turkey|author=European Court of Human Rights|authorlink=European Court of Human Rights|publisher=ECHR|accessdate=2006-11-30|date=2005-11-10]

Although Turkey is a secular state, Islam is an important part of Turkish life. Its application to join the EU divided existing members, some of which questioned whether a poor, Muslim country could fit in. Turkey accused its EU opponents of favouring a "Christian club". [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4385768.stm#turkey BBC - Muslims in Europe: Country profile] ]

Beginning in the 1980s, the role of religion in the state has been a divisive issue, as influential factions challenged the complete secularization called for by Kemalism and the observance of Islamic practices experienced a substantial revival. In the early 2000s, Islamic groups challenged the concept of the secular state with increasing vigor after the Erdoğan government had calmed the issue in 2003.

Religion and secularism

There is a strong tradition of secularism in Turkey. Even though the state has no official religion nor promotes any, it actively monitors the area between the religions.cite web|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3225651.stm |title=Headscarf row goes to Turkey's roots|work=BBC News|accessdate=2006-12-13|date=2003-10-29] The constitution recognises freedom of religion for individuals whereas the religious communities are placed under the protection of the state, but the constitution explicitly states that they cannot become involved in the political process (by forming a religious party for instance) or establish faith-based schools. No party can claim that it represents a form of religious belief; nevertheless, religious sensibilities are generally represented through conservative parties.cite book|title=Religion and Politics in Turkey|first=Ali|last=Çarkoglu|coauthors=Rubin, Barry|publisher=Routledge (UK)|year=2004|isbn=0-4153-4831-5|url=http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0415348315&id=t5G_zw9exMQC&pg=PP1&lpg=PP1&ots=nBltWxHPjd&dq=Religion+in+Turkey&sig=gLF9WOvOo0qZO5iwyUQSUc26Ya0#PPT145,M1] pn Turkey prohibits by law the wearing of religious headcover and theo-political symbolic garments for both genders in government buildings, schools, and universities; [cite web|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/5414098.stm |title=The Islamic veil across Europe|work=BBC News|accessdate=2006-12-13|date=2006-11-17] a law upheld by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights as "legitimate" on November 10, 2005 in Leyla Sahin v. Turkey. [cite web|url=http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/viewhbkm.asp?key=11423 |title=Leyla Sahin v. Turkey|publisher=European Court of Human Rights|accessdate=2008-08-15|date=2005-11-10]

Religious organization

The mainstream Hanafite school of Sunni Islam is largely organised by the state, through the "Diyanet Isleri Baskanligi" (Religious Affairs Directorate), which controls all mosques and Muslim clerics. The directorate is criticized by some Alevi Muslims for not supporting their beliefs and instead favoring the Sunni faith. The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople ("Patrik") is the head of the Greek Orthodox Church in Turkey, and also serves as the spiritual leader of all Orthodox churches throughout the world. The Armenian Patriarch is the head of the Armenian Church in Turkey, while the Jewish community is led by the "Hahambasi", Turkey's Chief Rabbi, based in Istanbul.

Historical Christian sites

Antioch (Antakya), the city where "the disciples were first called Christians" according to the biblical Book of Acts, is located in modern Turkey, as are most of the areas visited by St. Paul during his missions. The Epistle to the Galatians, Epistle to the Ephesians, Epistle to the Colossians, First Epistle of Peter, and Book of Revelation are addressed to recipients in the territory of modern Turkey. Additionally, all of the first Seven Ecumenical Councils that define Christianity for Eastern Orthodox Christians and are also considered as foundational by Roman Catholics and some traditional Protestant churches, took place in the territory that is now Turkey.

Freedom of religion

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice; however, the Government imposes some restrictions on Muslim and other religious groups and on Muslim religious expression in government offices and state-run institutions, including universities.cite web|url=http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2007/90204.htm
accessdate=2008-08-19
title=Turkey
date=2007-09-14
work=International Religious Freedom Report 2007
publisher=U.S. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
]

Some societal abuses and discrimination occur based on religious belief or practice. Violent attacks and threats against non-Muslims create an atmosphere of pressure and diminished freedom for some non-Muslim communities. Although proselytizing is legal in the country, non-Sunni Muslims, Christians, and Jews face a few restrictions and occasional harassment for alleged proselytizing or unauthorized meetings. The Government continues to oppose "Islamic fundamentalism."

Religious minorities say they are effectively blocked from careers in state institutions because of their faith. Christians, Jews, and non-Sunni Muslims face societal suspicion and mistrust, and more radical Islamist elements continue to express anti-Semitic sentiments. Additionally, persons wishing to convert from Islam to another religion sometimes experience social harassment and violence from relatives and neighbors.

Studies

According to a 2003 study by Çarkoglu, Ergüder, and Kalaycıoğlu:rp|133

A Pew Research Center report of 2002 found that 65% of the people in Turkey say religion plays a very important role in their lives.cite web|url=http://pewglobal.org/reports/display.php?ReportID=167|title=Religion is very important|work=Global Attitudes Project|publisher=Pew Research Center|date=2002-12-19|accessdate=2002-12-19]

According to the most recent Eurobarometer Poll 2005:cite web|url=http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_225_report_en.pdf|title=Eurobarometer on Social Values, Science and technology|year=2005|pages=pg.11|publisher=European Commission|accessdate=2007-05-05]

* 95% of Turkish citizens responded: "I believe there is a God".
* 2% responded: "I believe there is some sort of spirit or life force".
* 1% responded: "I don't believe there is any sort of spirit, God, or life force".

See also

* Christianity in Turkey
** Greek (Ecumenical) Patriarchate of Constantinople
** Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople
** Turkish Orthodox Patriarchate
** Roman Catholicism in Turkey
** Protestants in Turkey
* Judaism in Turkey
* Hinduism in Turkey
* Cultural Muslim
* List of mosques in Turkey
* List of synagogues in Turkey
* Religion by country

References


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