Marmara University, Istanbul
The George Washington International Law Review
Vol 41, 2011
This Article will illustrate how secular nationalism has been introduced as a source of collective identity and as a founding ideology of the Turkish state vis-a-vis the Islamic legacy of the Ottoman Empire. This Article will also locate religion in the process of laying the foundations of civil religion and examine how religion has been sidelined, marginalized, and reconfigured by the state ideology. Finally, in the context of Turkey-EU relations, this Article will analyze how the Turkish state has repositioned itself with regard to Islam, non-Muslims, and freedom of religion.
I. SACRALIZATION OF SECULAR NATIONALISM
II. INCORPORATION OF RELIGION IN THE STATE
Turkey as a majority Muslim country by population and a secular state by constitution presents a unique case study as far as de-establishment of Islam and its institutions on the one hand, and sacralization of the state through legal reforms, political changes, educational activities, and establishment of new institutions on the other hand. Foundations of civil religion were carefully planned and laid down in the formative period of the Republic, and secular figures, symbols, myths, and institutions were construed. Although the state gradually declared itself a secular entity, religion has been incorporated into the state machinery by the establishment of a state-controlled institution. This top-down elite construction and imposition of civil religion through the power and institutions of the state have been a constant source of tension in Turkish society, and this will remain so for a long time if Turkey does not push forward with democratization to open up space for religion in the public sphere.
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