Turkish Polıtıcs Dersi 6. Ünite Özet

09.08.2022
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State, Religion And Society İn Turkey

Açıköğretim ders notları öğrenciler tarafından ders çalışma esnasında hazırlanmakta olup diğer ders çalışacak öğrenciler için paylaşılmaktadır. Sizlerde hazırladığınız ders notlarını paylaşmak istiyorsanız bizlere iletebilirsiniz.

Açıköğretim derslerinden Turkish Polıtıcs Dersi 6. Ünite Özet için hazırlanan  ders çalışma dokümanına (ders özeti / sorularla öğrenelim) aşağıdan erişebilirsiniz. AÖF Ders Notları ile sınavlara çok daha etkili bir şekilde çalışabilirsiniz. Sınavlarınızda başarılar dileriz.

State, Religion And Society İn Turkey

Secularization Process and Secularization Thesis

In medieval times, states were established based on a religious ground. Especially in Europe, church was the major actor behind all kinds of political decisions. However, particularly with the effect of Renaissance and Reformation movements, the influence of the church over political life started to diminish. The idea of enlightenment, industrial revolution, and the French Revolution also helped the construction of a new order of life. In the new order which is called ‘modernity’, while reason and science gained significance, religion lost its prestige on political and social levels. Secularism is a political doctrine aiming to withdraw religion from political, social and economic life. This is a rather broad definition of the concept of secularism. More narrowly speaking, it merely means the segregation of the affairs of the state from the affairs of religion.

The paradigm of secularization, the bases of which were established by the first sociologists mentioned above, has recently been improved by Steve Bruce (2011), who define secularization through three major developments in the modernization process. These are differentiation, decline of religion, and privatization.

Differentiation is both used to refer to the differentiation of economy, state and science from religion, and also religion being specialized into sections in its own sphere. The institutions of the society such as the market and the state in the modern world had to emancipate from religion and become autonomous walks of life so that they could exert power on all social systems. Meanwhile, religion also differentiated in itself into sects especially in Christianity, where Catholicism was challenged by Protestantism. What caused this differentiation process are the Protestant Reformation, the formation of the nationstate and modern capitalism, and lastly the scientific revolution in the early modern era.

Another major development that is used to explain secularization is the decline of religion, which is claimed to be caused by increasing demands for individual liberty and increasing prosperity. Individualism and consumerism together, the two popular concerns of today’s world, are argued to bring about the decline of religiosity by presenting people with a variety of choices. Empirical research has shown that stable economies and prosperous nations where all members, especially women, have gained their individual liberty, religion’s dominance on social life has weakened.

Finally, the privatization thesis assumes that “religious institutions were becoming increasingly irrelevant and marginal to the functioning of the modern world, and that the modern religion itself was no longer to be found inside the churches. The modern quest for salvation and personal meaning had withdrawn to the private sphere of the self” (Casanova, 1994, p. 36). In the modern world, an individual’s quest for meaning has become a rather personal effort. Therefore, this quest does not need to be supported or unified by an institutional structure. Rather, the individuals privately and subjectively organize their quest for meaning and enjoy this subjective autonomy (Kocaoğlu & Altundal, 2017, p.65-66).

The thesis of secularization supported by three major developments described above has been criticized by many, one of whom is Jurgen Habermas, who is one of the leading social theorists. To Habermas, in an increasingly secularized environment, religious communities still pursue their existence. This state is defined by him as “post-secular society”. First of all, contrary to the belief of secularization thesis, religion has not disappeared or lost its dominance in social life, but prevails itself in the global conflicts and terrorism that occur as a result of fundamentalist religious movements. Thus, Habermas argues that religion has not diminished but it invades public consciousness in a different way.

Secondly, religion in the global scale is still a meaning provider for humans no matter how much pluralist our societies have become.

Third, global immigrant mobility both to the US and Europe from more traditional societies led to an increasing visibility of various religious ways of life. After the Second World War, the contribution of the immigrant workers from the East to the redevelopment of some European countries led to the encounter of different cultures.

The Relations Between the State and the Religion in the Ottoman Empire

Starting with the 17th century, this power and influence started to diminish owing to a lot of factors. In an attempt to find a remedy to this, the power elites of the Empire initiated a reformation process.

The reforms were initiated primarily on the military field. However, when this expectation was proved to be wrong in some time, other measures in administrative, legal and economic areas were taken. The regulations in these fields aimed to reinforce the power of the central administration. The triple power balance comprising the Ulema, the army, and the central bureaucracy was destructed in a way to increase the power of the bureaucracy over the other two. In case of Ulema, a new type of court (Meclis-i Valayı Ahkam-ı Adliye in Ottoman lang.) was established in 1838 for administrative affairs, which replaced the religious court. Second, a new penal code was brought for public law (Ceza Kanunname-i Hümayunu in Ottoman lang.) in 1840. Moreover, in 1858, a secular land law, in 1859 a secular trade law, and in 1864 a marine trade law was enacted. In 1867, the administrative courts independent of religious courts were established. Finally, in the final years of the Ottoman Empire and on the verge of the First World War, Shaikh al-lslam (the chief religious official in the Ottoman empire) was taken out of the cabinet, and the religious courts under Shaikh al-lslam were tied to the Ministry of Justice.

Although Ulema failed to maintain its power and effectiveness in the reformation period, especially during the reign of Abdülhamid II, religion maintained its impact on the state on an ideological ground. When Ottomanism as an ideology was proved to be insufficient to keep the Ottomans united, Islamism as an ideology was proposed as an alternative.

The Loss of Power of the Ulema in the Reformation Period

The deed was signed in October 1808 between the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Sultan Mahmud II and the representatives of provincial notables (Ayan). The deed consisted of an introduction, seven articles and an appendix.

In the document both the Sultan and local notables promised to rule fairly and respect each other’s autonomy. The local notables confirmed that they would obey the sultan and the grand vizier (sadrazam) authority and also guaranteed that they would justly rule the people who lived in their territories by signing the deed. The notables also accepted that they would recruit soldiers for the central government when they were asked by the central government and support the central governments’ reforms and defend the Sultan against any insurgence. On the other hand, the Sultan promised that he wouldn’t interfere in the way the provincial notables ruled as long as they were fair. He also promised to levy taxes fairly.

The sultan declared that the taxes wouldn’t be unfair and too overwhelming and also the general welfare of people would be looked after by central and local notables. While the central government reestablished its authority by imposing the deed, the local notables could keep their properties and fiscal and political privileges.

State-Religion Relations in the New Rebuplic

After the I. World War, various parts of Anatolia were invaded by France, Greece and Italy, and a struggle for independence was commenced by Mustafa Kemal. This fight pioneered by Mustafa Kemal led to a power struggle between the government in İstanbul and the newly established parliament, the first assembly of which was held on April 23, 1920. In the transition period when the Ottoman Empire was collapsed and the new Republic was being founded, the triggering force and uniting potential of religion was used to assist the resistance movement. However, with the successful completion of the struggle for independence and the foundation of the new republic, state and religion relations transformed in a radical manner.

1923-1945: One-Party State Period

The ideal state in Mustafa Kemal’s mind was a modern secular state similar to Western European ones, based on the grounds of the superiority of science and reason. The reforms targeting the secularization of Turkey could be categorized into three areas. The first was the secularization of state, education and law, which aimed to transform the institutional and traditional strength of Islam carried by the Ulema. The second was the measures taken against religious symbols and their replacement by the symbols of Western civilization. The third was the secularization of social life and the attack on popular Islam it entailed.

The first and a major development towards the secularization of the state, education and law is the abolishment of Sultanate before the declaration of the republic in 1923. In 1922, the Sultanate was abolished in order to remove the dichotomy between the last Ottoman government and the government in Ankara led by Mustafa Kemal. The second major development towards the secularization of the state was the abolishment of the Caliphate, which was a religious position for leading all the Muslims around the world. By the abolishment of the Caliphate, all members of the Osmanoğlu Dynasty were also sent abroad. Third, in 1928, the clause that made Islam the religion of the state of Turkey was removed from the constitution.

March 3, 1924, the day when the Caliphate was abolished, is a crucial day in terms of other reforms as well such as the abolition of the venerable function of Shaikh al-lslam and of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Pious Foundations. Instead of these institutions, two new directorates were founded, The Directorate of Religious Affairs and Directorate-General for Pious Foundations, both of which were directly attached to the Prime Ministry. Another significant reform dated the same was the enactment of the Law on the Unification of Education. The first clause of this law declared that all institutions of education around the country were to be unified and to be governed under the Ministry of Education, which aimed to demolish the dichotomy between the traditional educational institutions such as medressehs and modern and secular ones. The other clauses explained the principles of this unification in terms of budgetary and administrative issues. The overall purpose behind the unification was to make the ideal of the modern and secular western model of national state possible through the transformation of education.

The secularization of the state and education was followed by reforms on the secularization of law. The Swiss Civil Code and the Italian Penal Code were adopted by the state in 1926. These reforms completely removed the role of the Sharia.

The second area where reforms were needed to secularize the structure of the state was religious symbols. To begin with, fez (traditional headgear for men) was banned in 1925, as it was regarded as a symbol of the traditional religious state, not a modern and secular one. On the same day, a decree law by the cabinet prohibited all other than religious servants from wearing the turban and gown because turban and gown were thought to symbolize being ‘not modern’ and thus needed to be changed.

As part of another reform in 1934, wearing all types of religious attire for ordinary people was restricted to mosques in order to make religious symbols invisible in daily life. This ban had an exception, though, for those who were the clerical leaders of different religious communities existing in the population of the country.

Other reforms bearing a symbolic quality, although not directly related to religion, were the ones regarding the calendar, the units of measurement, the clock, and the numerals.

Probably the most significant development towards the change of religious symbols was the adoption of the Latin alphabet in 1928.

The last of the areas where secularization project was pursued was social life. To this purpose, the most crucial reform was the abolishment of dervish lodges (‘tekke’s and ‘zaviye’s) and the prohibition of tariqahs (tarikatlar) as well as the use of the titles pertaining to them through the law enforced in 1925. The second major step towards the secularization of the social life was the replacement of the Arabic ‘ezan’ (call to prayer from the minaret) with a Turkish one. The Holy Koran (Kuran-ı Kerim), khutba (sermon delivered at the noon prayer on Fridays) and Mevlid-i Şerif (a poem written by Süleyman Çelebi to celebrate the birthday of the prophet of Islam) was also translated into Turkish, and people were encouraged to read and listen to the Turkish version. Thus, all Koran, Khutbah and Mevlid would be more comprehensible to the general public.

A major consequence of one-party state reforms was that people and institutions related to Islam pursued their activities in underground ways.

1945-1950: Transition to the MultiParty Period

In the bipolar world that emerged during the Cold War period after the Second World War, Turkey positioned itself as an ally of the United States of America. The U.S.A provided financial support to certain countries like Turkey and Greece to gain allies against the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Thus, standing together with a liberal democracy like the US required Turkey to liberalize its economic and political system. Second, there were also national factors leading to liberalization. The country was exposed to oppressive practices of the oneparty state period. In addition, the problems caused by the fact that reforms were not fully internalized and reflected in ordinary people’s daily lives, and the economic costs that the public were faced related to conditions created by the Second World War triggered the internal demands for liberalization. All these factors created major discontent on the part of the people, which forced the state to take certain measures towards liberalization. The most visible sign of liberalization was the transition to the multi-party regime. The first political party established as part of this transition was the National Development Party (Milli Kalkınma Partisi- MKP) founded by Nuri Demirağ on July 18, 1945. Later on January 7, 1946, Democrat Party (DP) was founded by Celal Bayar.

1950-2002: Central Right, Islamic Revival and Postmodern Coup

As a result of the elections held in 1950, Democrat Party ended the 27-year dominance and hegemony of CHP. DP won three consecutive elections between 1950 and 1960 and maintained its power. With May 27, 1960 coup, Democrat Party was closed and the state was governed by military forces until the elections in 1961. Between 1960 and 1980, generally, parties with central right tendencies either governed alone or participated in coalition governments. For example, between 1965 and 1971, Justice Party (Adalet Partisi-AP) led by Süleyman Demirel governed the state, and Demirel served as the prime minister of two coalition governments between 1973 and 1980 (First Nationalist Front and Second Nationalist Front governments). These central right governments had a more liberal position towards religion state relations

1950-1960: Democrat Party Period

Democrat Party, which valued liberal principles as a foundation philosophy, speeded the liberalization process of the relations between the state and religion that had already started after 1945. The first step taken in terms of this was the abandonment of the Turkish ezan practice. As of June 14, 1950, ezan was again called in Arabic. As of July 7, 1950, the state radio was allowed to broadcast religious programs on certain days and hours. In addition, in 1951, four-year schools training İmam-Hatips after primary level, and after 1953, İmam-Hatip schools at the secondary level were opened. In 1956-1957 educational year, religious courses were added to the middle school program. Besides, 15000 new mosques were built around the country in these years with the foundation of 5000 civil society organizations.

The above mentioned developments are an expression of the liberal and tolerant attitude of Democrat Party towards religion, which caused the underground religious activities to become more apparent in daily life. On the other hand, Democrat Party was being careful not to make a concession from the principle of secularism. The first sign of this was the enforcement of the Law of Crimes against Atatürk (‘Atatürk Aleyhinde İşlenen Suçlar Hakkında Kanun’ in Turkish) in 1951. This law was the result of a struggle with the tariqah, especially Ticani Tariqah (Tijâniyyah), whose members attacked the statues of Atatürk. After the assassination of the journalist Ahmet Emin Yalman, who criticized the Democrat Party leader Adnan Menderes for being tolerant towards religious reactionarists, the pressure on the Islamic groups was enhanced. As part of this, Islam Democratic Party (İslam Demokrat Partisi) was closed for being related to the assassination in 1952. Various religious publications were banned and Nation Party (Millet Partisi-MP) was closed in 1954 because of abusing religion for the sake of political aims. Moreover, he also exerted a strict discipline on the religious reactionary members of Democrat Party. For example, Hasan Ustaoğlu, a member of parliament from Samsun was discharged from Democrat Party for a piece he published on the paper ‘Büyük Cihad’. Necip Fazıl, Said-i Nursi, and Eşref Edip were sued and judged on court for their writings.

1960-1980: Süleyman Demirel and the Rise of Political Islam

With the closure of Democrat Party in the 1960 coup, two new parties were founded to represent the tradition of DP: Justice Party (Adalet PartisiAP) and New Turkey Party (Yeni Türkiye PartisiYTP). Süleyman Demirel was elected as the party leader of AP and became the prime minister with 1965 elections. He maintained his influence which started with this election, for at least 30 years on Turkish politics. Demirel maintained Democrat Party’s tendencies of both tolerance towards religion and loyalty to the principle of secularism. According to Demirel, there was no conflict between religion and modernity. He claimed that despite efforts to explain the underdevelopment of our country with religion, being Muslim was not an excuse for being not modern and in the same way modernity was not an obstacle for being Muslim. What he believed was mainly the need for a reconciliation of Islam, modernity, democracy, and secularism. In addition, to him, former secular reform attempts during the oneparty state period violated the freedom of faith and conscience, which he viewed as the violation of basic human rights and freedoms.

Another facet of the 1960-1980 period in terms of state religion relations is the rise of Islam. There are a couple of reasons for the revival of Islam in this period, the two of which will be elaborated here. The first reason is related to the tolerance created by both the 1961 constitution and the policies of central right governments. The constitution agreed on in 1961 could largely be considered a liberal one in terms of protecting all types of freedoms such as religion and conscience, speech and thought, organization, and property. The second major factor that eased the revival of Islam was migration. After 1950, in Turkey, an intense internal migration wave occurred from rural to the urban areas. For those who migrated to cities, religion functioned as a shelter in both material and immaterial senses. These two major factors that caused the rise of Islam made it more apparent especially in political and cultural areas.

In conclusion, between 1950 and 1980, a general rise in Islam in Turkey is thought to be witnessed. Two major developments that took place in 1979 in the world, the Islamic revolution in Iran and the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union, would even take this rise further after 1980.

1980-2002: Turkish-Islamic synthesis and Postmodern Coup of 28th February

The year of 1980 brought another military coup to Turkey’s history.

Turkish-Islamic synthesis was an ideology invented in order to build a bridge between the quarreling sides of the society before 1980 and bring an order and stability by gathering them together on the grounds of nationalism and religious sentimentalities. This, together with the aforementioned global developments of Iran and Afghanistan, led to an increase in the social and political effectiveness of Islam. In the name of maintaining order and peace in the country, after 1980, the state encouraged and allowed various religious groups.

As the Islamic organizations were gaining economic and social strength in the light of these developments, the political arena was being dominated by the Motherland Party (Anavatan Partisi–ANAP) led by Turgut Özal. Turgut Özal was both a liberal and a conservative. He frequently mentioned three freedoms; freedom of thought, freedom of religion and conscience, and freedom of enterprise.

The global and national conjuncture of 1980’s created a decent atmosphere for Islamic groups to gain economic, political and social power. In 1990s, the rise and success of Welfare Party (Refah Partisi-RP) are reflections of this power accumulation. RP received successful results in 1994 local government elections in big cities like İstanbul and Ankara; and received the majority of votes in 1995 elections for parliament. Following 1995 elections, Erbakan, the leader of RP became the prime minister leading a coalition government with the True Path Party (Doğru Yol Partisi-DYP) from June 28, 1996 until June 30, 1997.

On February 28, 1997, pressure was exerted on the government of Erbakan to sign certain decisions and resign, which finally occurred on the June 30. Second, all the dormitories and schools run by religious groups were to be tied to the Ministry of National Education, and compulsory education to be conducted in eightyear primary level schools so that younger children were trained in accordance with Atatürk’s principles and thoughts. A final significant decision was pertaining to the closure of the tariqah.

A political turbulance and crisis occurred in Turkey after February 28 military memorandum. The parliament elections held in 1999 were assumed to dissolve this crisis; however, this did not happen. On the contrary, the country which was devastated by a major earthquake on the August 17, 1999 had to face severe economic and social costs, as well as the growing political conflicts and crises caused by the tension between the political elites. In the hope of a remedy to all these crises, Turkey went through another election in 2002, which resulted in Justice and Development Party’s (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi-AK Parti) triumph.

From 2002 to Today: State and Religion in the AK Party Period

a AK Party was founded in 2001 by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his friends. Shortly after its foundation, it won the election by the majority of votes and elected for government. The most significant point in explaining Erdoğan’s perspective of state and religion relations is that he believes in the secularity of states, not individuals. A similar perspective was drawn by Özal in the past.

First of all, a major development of the AK Party period in terms of relations between the state and religion is the efforts made towards the solution of the headscarf matter, which had long been a controversial issue in Turkish politics since 1980s. The acceptance of women in headscarves in public sphere was problematic. In 1990’s, especially during the 28th February period, women were not allowed to wear headscarves in public places such as universities as students and in bureaucratic institutions as civil servants. After AK Party became the government, they took various measures to solve this problem such as the declaration of a decree by the head of Council of Higher Education, which demanded all universities to abolish this prohibition on female students with headscarves in 2008. Although this demand was not accepted by all universities at the time, today women can wear headscarves both in universities as students and in all other bureaucratic places like schools, hospitals, court rooms, and the army as civil servants.

Secondly, AK Party abolished the coefficient system, one of the leading problems with the education system, adopted in the aftermath of the military postmodern coup on February 28, 1997. Under the coefficient system, applicants who wished to enroll in university programs other than their high school concentration would experience severe reductions in their test scores (Çelik & Gür, 2013), an implementation which targeted to limit the graduates of İmam-Hatip high schools in their university entrance. Another important amendment towards religious education by AK Party was the adoption of a new law increasing mandatory education to 12 years and making it possible to reopen the middle level of İmam-Hatip schools, which was abolished by the decisions of February 28 military memorandum, through a system widely known as 4+4+4.

Lastly, AK Party paved the way for a regeneration of Sunni religious groups whose activity grounds were strictly restricted in the aftermath of the military postmodern coup on February 28th, 1997. AK Party also benefited from the social capital of the tariqah in the process of hegemony construction.

July 15, 2016 The Failed Coup Attempt by FETÖ

Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) attempted to get hold of political power and the government of Turkey through a military intervention, which turned out to represent a critical threshold in terms of state religion relations. A religious structure which was assumed to be carrying out activities as a civil society organization dared to occupy the control of the entire state. However, the public commonsense and support caused this daring attempt to fail.

FETÖ had been considered a religious community acting corporately in sectors like education, media, banking, health, and logistics up to 2013, when they tried to attack the AK Party government by using the members placed in the judicial system. What they did was to arrest the head of National Intelligence Agency Hakan Fidan, and placing corruption charges against some members of the AK Party government. Both these actions and the failed intervention they pledged made it clear that they leaked into the state via certain methods like pressure, blackmailing, illegal wiretapping, indoctrination of children in their schools, and corruption in entry examinations to higher education and to civil service.

Secularization Process and Secularization Thesis

In medieval times, states were established based on a religious ground. Especially in Europe, church was the major actor behind all kinds of political decisions. However, particularly with the effect of Renaissance and Reformation movements, the influence of the church over political life started to diminish. The idea of enlightenment, industrial revolution, and the French Revolution also helped the construction of a new order of life. In the new order which is called ‘modernity’, while reason and science gained significance, religion lost its prestige on political and social levels. Secularism is a political doctrine aiming to withdraw religion from political, social and economic life. This is a rather broad definition of the concept of secularism. More narrowly speaking, it merely means the segregation of the affairs of the state from the affairs of religion.

The paradigm of secularization, the bases of which were established by the first sociologists mentioned above, has recently been improved by Steve Bruce (2011), who define secularization through three major developments in the modernization process. These are differentiation, decline of religion, and privatization.

Differentiation is both used to refer to the differentiation of economy, state and science from religion, and also religion being specialized into sections in its own sphere. The institutions of the society such as the market and the state in the modern world had to emancipate from religion and become autonomous walks of life so that they could exert power on all social systems. Meanwhile, religion also differentiated in itself into sects especially in Christianity, where Catholicism was challenged by Protestantism. What caused this differentiation process are the Protestant Reformation, the formation of the nationstate and modern capitalism, and lastly the scientific revolution in the early modern era.

Another major development that is used to explain secularization is the decline of religion, which is claimed to be caused by increasing demands for individual liberty and increasing prosperity. Individualism and consumerism together, the two popular concerns of today’s world, are argued to bring about the decline of religiosity by presenting people with a variety of choices. Empirical research has shown that stable economies and prosperous nations where all members, especially women, have gained their individual liberty, religion’s dominance on social life has weakened.

Finally, the privatization thesis assumes that “religious institutions were becoming increasingly irrelevant and marginal to the functioning of the modern world, and that the modern religion itself was no longer to be found inside the churches. The modern quest for salvation and personal meaning had withdrawn to the private sphere of the self” (Casanova, 1994, p. 36). In the modern world, an individual’s quest for meaning has become a rather personal effort. Therefore, this quest does not need to be supported or unified by an institutional structure. Rather, the individuals privately and subjectively organize their quest for meaning and enjoy this subjective autonomy (Kocaoğlu & Altundal, 2017, p.65-66).

The thesis of secularization supported by three major developments described above has been criticized by many, one of whom is Jurgen Habermas, who is one of the leading social theorists. To Habermas, in an increasingly secularized environment, religious communities still pursue their existence. This state is defined by him as “post-secular society”. First of all, contrary to the belief of secularization thesis, religion has not disappeared or lost its dominance in social life, but prevails itself in the global conflicts and terrorism that occur as a result of fundamentalist religious movements. Thus, Habermas argues that religion has not diminished but it invades public consciousness in a different way.

Secondly, religion in the global scale is still a meaning provider for humans no matter how much pluralist our societies have become.

Third, global immigrant mobility both to the US and Europe from more traditional societies led to an increasing visibility of various religious ways of life. After the Second World War, the contribution of the immigrant workers from the East to the redevelopment of some European countries led to the encounter of different cultures.

The Relations Between the State and the Religion in the Ottoman Empire

Starting with the 17th century, this power and influence started to diminish owing to a lot of factors. In an attempt to find a remedy to this, the power elites of the Empire initiated a reformation process.

The reforms were initiated primarily on the military field. However, when this expectation was proved to be wrong in some time, other measures in administrative, legal and economic areas were taken. The regulations in these fields aimed to reinforce the power of the central administration. The triple power balance comprising the Ulema, the army, and the central bureaucracy was destructed in a way to increase the power of the bureaucracy over the other two. In case of Ulema, a new type of court (Meclis-i Valayı Ahkam-ı Adliye in Ottoman lang.) was established in 1838 for administrative affairs, which replaced the religious court. Second, a new penal code was brought for public law (Ceza Kanunname-i Hümayunu in Ottoman lang.) in 1840. Moreover, in 1858, a secular land law, in 1859 a secular trade law, and in 1864 a marine trade law was enacted. In 1867, the administrative courts independent of religious courts were established. Finally, in the final years of the Ottoman Empire and on the verge of the First World War, Shaikh al-lslam (the chief religious official in the Ottoman empire) was taken out of the cabinet, and the religious courts under Shaikh al-lslam were tied to the Ministry of Justice.

Although Ulema failed to maintain its power and effectiveness in the reformation period, especially during the reign of Abdülhamid II, religion maintained its impact on the state on an ideological ground. When Ottomanism as an ideology was proved to be insufficient to keep the Ottomans united, Islamism as an ideology was proposed as an alternative.

The Loss of Power of the Ulema in the Reformation Period

The deed was signed in October 1808 between the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Sultan Mahmud II and the representatives of provincial notables (Ayan). The deed consisted of an introduction, seven articles and an appendix.

In the document both the Sultan and local notables promised to rule fairly and respect each other’s autonomy. The local notables confirmed that they would obey the sultan and the grand vizier (sadrazam) authority and also guaranteed that they would justly rule the people who lived in their territories by signing the deed. The notables also accepted that they would recruit soldiers for the central government when they were asked by the central government and support the central governments’ reforms and defend the Sultan against any insurgence. On the other hand, the Sultan promised that he wouldn’t interfere in the way the provincial notables ruled as long as they were fair. He also promised to levy taxes fairly.

The sultan declared that the taxes wouldn’t be unfair and too overwhelming and also the general welfare of people would be looked after by central and local notables. While the central government reestablished its authority by imposing the deed, the local notables could keep their properties and fiscal and political privileges.

State-Religion Relations in the New Rebuplic

After the I. World War, various parts of Anatolia were invaded by France, Greece and Italy, and a struggle for independence was commenced by Mustafa Kemal. This fight pioneered by Mustafa Kemal led to a power struggle between the government in İstanbul and the newly established parliament, the first assembly of which was held on April 23, 1920. In the transition period when the Ottoman Empire was collapsed and the new Republic was being founded, the triggering force and uniting potential of religion was used to assist the resistance movement. However, with the successful completion of the struggle for independence and the foundation of the new republic, state and religion relations transformed in a radical manner.

1923-1945: One-Party State Period

The ideal state in Mustafa Kemal’s mind was a modern secular state similar to Western European ones, based on the grounds of the superiority of science and reason. The reforms targeting the secularization of Turkey could be categorized into three areas. The first was the secularization of state, education and law, which aimed to transform the institutional and traditional strength of Islam carried by the Ulema. The second was the measures taken against religious symbols and their replacement by the symbols of Western civilization. The third was the secularization of social life and the attack on popular Islam it entailed.

The first and a major development towards the secularization of the state, education and law is the abolishment of Sultanate before the declaration of the republic in 1923. In 1922, the Sultanate was abolished in order to remove the dichotomy between the last Ottoman government and the government in Ankara led by Mustafa Kemal. The second major development towards the secularization of the state was the abolishment of the Caliphate, which was a religious position for leading all the Muslims around the world. By the abolishment of the Caliphate, all members of the Osmanoğlu Dynasty were also sent abroad. Third, in 1928, the clause that made Islam the religion of the state of Turkey was removed from the constitution.

March 3, 1924, the day when the Caliphate was abolished, is a crucial day in terms of other reforms as well such as the abolition of the venerable function of Shaikh al-lslam and of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Pious Foundations. Instead of these institutions, two new directorates were founded, The Directorate of Religious Affairs and Directorate-General for Pious Foundations, both of which were directly attached to the Prime Ministry. Another significant reform dated the same was the enactment of the Law on the Unification of Education. The first clause of this law declared that all institutions of education around the country were to be unified and to be governed under the Ministry of Education, which aimed to demolish the dichotomy between the traditional educational institutions such as medressehs and modern and secular ones. The other clauses explained the principles of this unification in terms of budgetary and administrative issues. The overall purpose behind the unification was to make the ideal of the modern and secular western model of national state possible through the transformation of education.

The secularization of the state and education was followed by reforms on the secularization of law. The Swiss Civil Code and the Italian Penal Code were adopted by the state in 1926. These reforms completely removed the role of the Sharia.

The second area where reforms were needed to secularize the structure of the state was religious symbols. To begin with, fez (traditional headgear for men) was banned in 1925, as it was regarded as a symbol of the traditional religious state, not a modern and secular one. On the same day, a decree law by the cabinet prohibited all other than religious servants from wearing the turban and gown because turban and gown were thought to symbolize being ‘not modern’ and thus needed to be changed.

As part of another reform in 1934, wearing all types of religious attire for ordinary people was restricted to mosques in order to make religious symbols invisible in daily life. This ban had an exception, though, for those who were the clerical leaders of different religious communities existing in the population of the country.

Other reforms bearing a symbolic quality, although not directly related to religion, were the ones regarding the calendar, the units of measurement, the clock, and the numerals.

Probably the most significant development towards the change of religious symbols was the adoption of the Latin alphabet in 1928.

The last of the areas where secularization project was pursued was social life. To this purpose, the most crucial reform was the abolishment of dervish lodges (‘tekke’s and ‘zaviye’s) and the prohibition of tariqahs (tarikatlar) as well as the use of the titles pertaining to them through the law enforced in 1925. The second major step towards the secularization of the social life was the replacement of the Arabic ‘ezan’ (call to prayer from the minaret) with a Turkish one. The Holy Koran (Kuran-ı Kerim), khutba (sermon delivered at the noon prayer on Fridays) and Mevlid-i Şerif (a poem written by Süleyman Çelebi to celebrate the birthday of the prophet of Islam) was also translated into Turkish, and people were encouraged to read and listen to the Turkish version. Thus, all Koran, Khutbah and Mevlid would be more comprehensible to the general public.

A major consequence of one-party state reforms was that people and institutions related to Islam pursued their activities in underground ways.

1945-1950: Transition to the MultiParty Period

In the bipolar world that emerged during the Cold War period after the Second World War, Turkey positioned itself as an ally of the United States of America. The U.S.A provided financial support to certain countries like Turkey and Greece to gain allies against the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Thus, standing together with a liberal democracy like the US required Turkey to liberalize its economic and political system. Second, there were also national factors leading to liberalization. The country was exposed to oppressive practices of the oneparty state period. In addition, the problems caused by the fact that reforms were not fully internalized and reflected in ordinary people’s daily lives, and the economic costs that the public were faced related to conditions created by the Second World War triggered the internal demands for liberalization. All these factors created major discontent on the part of the people, which forced the state to take certain measures towards liberalization. The most visible sign of liberalization was the transition to the multi-party regime. The first political party established as part of this transition was the National Development Party (Milli Kalkınma Partisi- MKP) founded by Nuri Demirağ on July 18, 1945. Later on January 7, 1946, Democrat Party (DP) was founded by Celal Bayar.

1950-2002: Central Right, Islamic Revival and Postmodern Coup

As a result of the elections held in 1950, Democrat Party ended the 27-year dominance and hegemony of CHP. DP won three consecutive elections between 1950 and 1960 and maintained its power. With May 27, 1960 coup, Democrat Party was closed and the state was governed by military forces until the elections in 1961. Between 1960 and 1980, generally, parties with central right tendencies either governed alone or participated in coalition governments. For example, between 1965 and 1971, Justice Party (Adalet Partisi-AP) led by Süleyman Demirel governed the state, and Demirel served as the prime minister of two coalition governments between 1973 and 1980 (First Nationalist Front and Second Nationalist Front governments). These central right governments had a more liberal position towards religion state relations

1950-1960: Democrat Party Period

Democrat Party, which valued liberal principles as a foundation philosophy, speeded the liberalization process of the relations between the state and religion that had already started after 1945. The first step taken in terms of this was the abandonment of the Turkish ezan practice. As of June 14, 1950, ezan was again called in Arabic. As of July 7, 1950, the state radio was allowed to broadcast religious programs on certain days and hours. In addition, in 1951, four-year schools training İmam-Hatips after primary level, and after 1953, İmam-Hatip schools at the secondary level were opened. In 1956-1957 educational year, religious courses were added to the middle school program. Besides, 15000 new mosques were built around the country in these years with the foundation of 5000 civil society organizations.

The above mentioned developments are an expression of the liberal and tolerant attitude of Democrat Party towards religion, which caused the underground religious activities to become more apparent in daily life. On the other hand, Democrat Party was being careful not to make a concession from the principle of secularism. The first sign of this was the enforcement of the Law of Crimes against Atatürk (‘Atatürk Aleyhinde İşlenen Suçlar Hakkında Kanun’ in Turkish) in 1951. This law was the result of a struggle with the tariqah, especially Ticani Tariqah (Tijâniyyah), whose members attacked the statues of Atatürk. After the assassination of the journalist Ahmet Emin Yalman, who criticized the Democrat Party leader Adnan Menderes for being tolerant towards religious reactionarists, the pressure on the Islamic groups was enhanced. As part of this, Islam Democratic Party (İslam Demokrat Partisi) was closed for being related to the assassination in 1952. Various religious publications were banned and Nation Party (Millet Partisi-MP) was closed in 1954 because of abusing religion for the sake of political aims. Moreover, he also exerted a strict discipline on the religious reactionary members of Democrat Party. For example, Hasan Ustaoğlu, a member of parliament from Samsun was discharged from Democrat Party for a piece he published on the paper ‘Büyük Cihad’. Necip Fazıl, Said-i Nursi, and Eşref Edip were sued and judged on court for their writings.

1960-1980: Süleyman Demirel and the Rise of Political Islam

With the closure of Democrat Party in the 1960 coup, two new parties were founded to represent the tradition of DP: Justice Party (Adalet PartisiAP) and New Turkey Party (Yeni Türkiye PartisiYTP). Süleyman Demirel was elected as the party leader of AP and became the prime minister with 1965 elections. He maintained his influence which started with this election, for at least 30 years on Turkish politics. Demirel maintained Democrat Party’s tendencies of both tolerance towards religion and loyalty to the principle of secularism. According to Demirel, there was no conflict between religion and modernity. He claimed that despite efforts to explain the underdevelopment of our country with religion, being Muslim was not an excuse for being not modern and in the same way modernity was not an obstacle for being Muslim. What he believed was mainly the need for a reconciliation of Islam, modernity, democracy, and secularism. In addition, to him, former secular reform attempts during the oneparty state period violated the freedom of faith and conscience, which he viewed as the violation of basic human rights and freedoms.

Another facet of the 1960-1980 period in terms of state religion relations is the rise of Islam. There are a couple of reasons for the revival of Islam in this period, the two of which will be elaborated here. The first reason is related to the tolerance created by both the 1961 constitution and the policies of central right governments. The constitution agreed on in 1961 could largely be considered a liberal one in terms of protecting all types of freedoms such as religion and conscience, speech and thought, organization, and property. The second major factor that eased the revival of Islam was migration. After 1950, in Turkey, an intense internal migration wave occurred from rural to the urban areas. For those who migrated to cities, religion functioned as a shelter in both material and immaterial senses. These two major factors that caused the rise of Islam made it more apparent especially in political and cultural areas.

In conclusion, between 1950 and 1980, a general rise in Islam in Turkey is thought to be witnessed. Two major developments that took place in 1979 in the world, the Islamic revolution in Iran and the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union, would even take this rise further after 1980.

1980-2002: Turkish-Islamic synthesis and Postmodern Coup of 28th February

The year of 1980 brought another military coup to Turkey’s history.

Turkish-Islamic synthesis was an ideology invented in order to build a bridge between the quarreling sides of the society before 1980 and bring an order and stability by gathering them together on the grounds of nationalism and religious sentimentalities. This, together with the aforementioned global developments of Iran and Afghanistan, led to an increase in the social and political effectiveness of Islam. In the name of maintaining order and peace in the country, after 1980, the state encouraged and allowed various religious groups.

As the Islamic organizations were gaining economic and social strength in the light of these developments, the political arena was being dominated by the Motherland Party (Anavatan Partisi–ANAP) led by Turgut Özal. Turgut Özal was both a liberal and a conservative. He frequently mentioned three freedoms; freedom of thought, freedom of religion and conscience, and freedom of enterprise.

The global and national conjuncture of 1980’s created a decent atmosphere for Islamic groups to gain economic, political and social power. In 1990s, the rise and success of Welfare Party (Refah Partisi-RP) are reflections of this power accumulation. RP received successful results in 1994 local government elections in big cities like İstanbul and Ankara; and received the majority of votes in 1995 elections for parliament. Following 1995 elections, Erbakan, the leader of RP became the prime minister leading a coalition government with the True Path Party (Doğru Yol Partisi-DYP) from June 28, 1996 until June 30, 1997.

On February 28, 1997, pressure was exerted on the government of Erbakan to sign certain decisions and resign, which finally occurred on the June 30. Second, all the dormitories and schools run by religious groups were to be tied to the Ministry of National Education, and compulsory education to be conducted in eightyear primary level schools so that younger children were trained in accordance with Atatürk’s principles and thoughts. A final significant decision was pertaining to the closure of the tariqah.

A political turbulance and crisis occurred in Turkey after February 28 military memorandum. The parliament elections held in 1999 were assumed to dissolve this crisis; however, this did not happen. On the contrary, the country which was devastated by a major earthquake on the August 17, 1999 had to face severe economic and social costs, as well as the growing political conflicts and crises caused by the tension between the political elites. In the hope of a remedy to all these crises, Turkey went through another election in 2002, which resulted in Justice and Development Party’s (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi-AK Parti) triumph.

From 2002 to Today: State and Religion in the AK Party Period

a AK Party was founded in 2001 by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his friends. Shortly after its foundation, it won the election by the majority of votes and elected for government. The most significant point in explaining Erdoğan’s perspective of state and religion relations is that he believes in the secularity of states, not individuals. A similar perspective was drawn by Özal in the past.

First of all, a major development of the AK Party period in terms of relations between the state and religion is the efforts made towards the solution of the headscarf matter, which had long been a controversial issue in Turkish politics since 1980s. The acceptance of women in headscarves in public sphere was problematic. In 1990’s, especially during the 28th February period, women were not allowed to wear headscarves in public places such as universities as students and in bureaucratic institutions as civil servants. After AK Party became the government, they took various measures to solve this problem such as the declaration of a decree by the head of Council of Higher Education, which demanded all universities to abolish this prohibition on female students with headscarves in 2008. Although this demand was not accepted by all universities at the time, today women can wear headscarves both in universities as students and in all other bureaucratic places like schools, hospitals, court rooms, and the army as civil servants.

Secondly, AK Party abolished the coefficient system, one of the leading problems with the education system, adopted in the aftermath of the military postmodern coup on February 28, 1997. Under the coefficient system, applicants who wished to enroll in university programs other than their high school concentration would experience severe reductions in their test scores (Çelik & Gür, 2013), an implementation which targeted to limit the graduates of İmam-Hatip high schools in their university entrance. Another important amendment towards religious education by AK Party was the adoption of a new law increasing mandatory education to 12 years and making it possible to reopen the middle level of İmam-Hatip schools, which was abolished by the decisions of February 28 military memorandum, through a system widely known as 4+4+4.

Lastly, AK Party paved the way for a regeneration of Sunni religious groups whose activity grounds were strictly restricted in the aftermath of the military postmodern coup on February 28th, 1997. AK Party also benefited from the social capital of the tariqah in the process of hegemony construction.

July 15, 2016 The Failed Coup Attempt by FETÖ

Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) attempted to get hold of political power and the government of Turkey through a military intervention, which turned out to represent a critical threshold in terms of state religion relations. A religious structure which was assumed to be carrying out activities as a civil society organization dared to occupy the control of the entire state. However, the public commonsense and support caused this daring attempt to fail.

FETÖ had been considered a religious community acting corporately in sectors like education, media, banking, health, and logistics up to 2013, when they tried to attack the AK Party government by using the members placed in the judicial system. What they did was to arrest the head of National Intelligence Agency Hakan Fidan, and placing corruption charges against some members of the AK Party government. Both these actions and the failed intervention they pledged made it clear that they leaked into the state via certain methods like pressure, blackmailing, illegal wiretapping, indoctrination of children in their schools, and corruption in entry examinations to higher education and to civil service.

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