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Turkey: Synthesis between Islam and Secularism Essay

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Updated: Sep 14th, 2019

Turkey was founded as a secular state with clear national values. The country has enjoyed a clear distinction between state and religion for several decades. This has in effect promoted a national value of exclusion of religion from all parts of public life.

Initial constitutional reviews eliminated Islam as a national religion. Reform processes later introduced Kemalism that set clear objectives to increase modernization and democratization (Hashemi 24).

However, the recent transformations that have occurred in the country continue to raise concerns. There is a synthesis between Islam and secularism that is ongoing in the country.

The consequence of this development is in relation to the fact that Turkey could remain secularist but with secular values fundamentally transformed (Kalyvas 189).

The transformation that is taking place in Turkey entails the emergence of a mix of secularism and Islam. The new model amalgamates moderate Islamism, democratic reforms and liberalization (Hashemi 103).

Increased democratization and liberalization has facilitated the transformation through the interaction between the deeply rooted secularism and emerging Islamism.

The fact that Justice and Development Party (AKP) is the party currently offering leadership in Turkey further confirms these claims (Kalyvas 190). The party has been depicted as proactive to Islam initiatives and the current leader has significant connections with Islamism.

The party has strong religious roots, which does not support secularism. The party made a promise to give religion an outstanding position in a secularist Turkey. The party has fulfilled this promise by being friendlier to Islamism (Yavuz 47).

Turkish nationals who are affiliated to Islam have recently promoted the Islamic identity using their language. This has made more people to demand significant participation in the political affairs of the country (Kalyvas 190).

The Islam identity has developed and acted as a way to force interaction with secularism. For one decade, the ruling party has contested authoritarian secularism, which is the foundation of Kemalism.

Instead, the party has taken leadership in articulating an aspect of Islamic identity, which brings together secularism, democratization, and modernization (Kalyvas 190).

Although, AKP has a strong connection with Islam in the country it has not made an effort to implement essential Islamic policies. The party has not made an effort to implement anti-secularist policies in Turkey or contest its secularist and democratic institutions.

However, it has transformed different institutions in Turkey through developing neo-liberal policies and political changes according to the expectations of the world development partners (Yavuz 204).

The party has also undergone transformation and now pursues issues of democracy and respect for the rule of law (Hashemi 104).

The combination of judicious Islamism and sustained transformation of the secularist institutions significantly reveals the new model in the country. The new model shows that much as Turkey is a secularist state, it may not be secular as it was originally.

Conclusion

In summary, the present situation of a secular nation, not showing its national values presents diverse concerns. The new situation has emerged as a result of a combination of two political views, including secularism and pro-Islamism, which is promoted by AKP.

The consequence of this new development is the politics of engagement between secularism and Islam. This is a synthesis that is slowly contributing to the fading away of the original secular values.

Works Cited

Hashemi, Nader. Islam, Secularism, and Liberal Democracy: Toward a Democratic Theory for Muslim Societies. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. Print.

Kalyvas, Stathis. “The ‘Turkish Model’ in the Matrix of Political Calothilicism.”

Democracy, Islam, and Secularism in Turkey.Ed. Kuru, Ahmet, and Stepan, Alfred. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2012. 189 – 199. Print.

Yavuz, M H. Secularism and Muslim Democracy in Turkey. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009. Print.

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