Atatürk's Secularism In Turkey

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1.1. Problem area Turkey is a central actor on the global scene and lies at a crossroad between all four cardinal points, hence between Western values and Muslim culture. It has undergone historical changes that have had great importance, not only for its population, but also for its political, economic and social factors. Turkey moved away from the Ottoman Empire in 1923 when Mustafa Kemal Atatürk established the modern Republic of Turkey. Indeed, Atatürk laid the groundwork that would allow the Turkish population to live in a peaceful, supposedly homogenous society, distanced from the Islamic world. This groundwork introduced a key notion, the one of “Secularism”, which was to become the foundation of the development of Turkey. Atatürk relied…show more content…
Nevertheless, he still had to integrate it in a society that was fundamentally different from the Western world, hence his perception of secularism needed to intertwine laïcité with the cultural aspects within Turkey, which would then allow one to fully understand what he wanted to attain in rebuilding Turkey. While it was the single-party period that eligibly permitted the triumph of Atatürk’s ideology and secularism, the shift to a multi-party system in the 1960’s decelerated this ascension and predisposed Turkey to disparate principles. In fact, when the Justice and Development Party ((Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi) AKP), and more specifically, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, gained importance and reached its peak, one could note a starting-point in what would become a series of politico-sociological changes. In fact, Atatürk was the founding father of secularism within Turkey, but not all traditionalists and conservatives saw this with a favourable eye. This duality that occurred in Turkey relates extensively to Asad’s statement regarding the thoughts revolving around secularism. He states, “the opponents of secularism in the Middle East and elsewhere have rejected it [, secularism,] as specific to the West, while its advocates have insisted that its…show more content…
Moreover, it indirectly emphasizes that Erdogan supports and stands in defense for the principle of secularism, which does not question his acceptance of it, but rather his behaviour towards it. Indeed, his actions and discourses do to some extent raise interrogations as to what perception he has of the notion of secularism. This inquiring is moreover highlighted by provocative headlines that directly state the menace of Erdogan’s reign. Articles such as “Is Erdogan signalling end of secularism in Turkey?” (Tremblay, 2015), “The end of ‘Secular Turkey’ or Ottomans re-emergent?” (Erimtan, 2015) or “Recep Tayyip Erdogan: Turkey’s ruthless president” (BBC News, 2016) are spreading across the mass media, whether that is respectively Al-Monitor, Russia Today (RT) or BBC News, and have yet to establish a clear answer. These headlines raise the controversy regarding Erdogan’s actions, and are only the tip of the iceberg to the entire debate revolving around this issue. It is not only his actions that are being contested but also, and more importantly, his aim for the future of Turkey. Claims are indeed spreading that he is moving away from Atatürk’s view on secularism, and is rebuilding a new Muslim state, based on the foundation of the Ottoman Empire. However, these statements are filled with bias and Western perceptions

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