Home > Radical Islam > Turkey: Secular Opposition Laments the Rise of Islamism in Turkish Government and Society, Christians Under Increasing Pressure

Turkey: Secular Opposition Laments the Rise of Islamism in Turkish Government and Society, Christians Under Increasing Pressure


“(ANSAmed) – ANKARA, JANUARY 18 – In a Turkey with a secular constitution and a government and population of the Muslim faith, the social-democrat opposition has denounced an attack by the government and the presidency on the tradition of Ataturk festivities, symbol of the state’s secular nature. The alarm has come on a day in which a daily paper provided details on a report by the Association of Protestant Christian Churches noting numerous ‘attacks’ on Christian communities. As concerns celebrations linked to the acts of Mustafa Kemal (known as Ataturk, ‘Father of the Turks’), the founder of modern Turkey after World War I resulted in closer ties to the West of the country created from the dissolved Ottoman Empire, a high level representative of the People’s Republican Party (CNP) has denounced an initiative by Head of State Abdullah Gul to place under review celebrations for national festivities. The move is an attempt by the moderate Islamic party AKP under Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to erode Turkey’s secular tradition and that of its founding father, said CHP vice president Birgul Ayman Guler in a statement released yesterday.

These ‘shameful acts’, which Erdogan and Gul’s party call ‘updating’, are in reality – said the politician – an ‘attempt to discredit and sweep away what remains of Ataturk.’ Implying that the festivities are mass events that bear little relevance to present times, events redolent of the 1930s or of a dictatorial nation, the presidency confirmed that they are carrying out an ‘update’…

The attention on the erosion of the legacy of the ultra-secular Ataturk runs parallel to that of the advance of Islam in the country’s politics and society. It is within this context that the opposition paper Milliyet reports on a dossier in which Protestant churches noted a bomb attack in May 2011 on one of their places of worship in Bursa, and shots fired at a Smyrna church in April during religious services. Also noted are access denied to places of worship, missionaries described as security threats in a textbook and numerous rejections of requests for exemption from Islam classes in schools, with the case of a teacher who was not punished in any way after beating a student who did not want to say the the declaration of Muslim belief.” Read more.

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