- A deeper look into the history of Turkey reveals that, unfortunately, Turkey has never been either truly secular or democratic. In Turkey, freedom of conscience and religion is respected — but only if you are a practicing Sunni Muslim.
- The problem is that “modern” Turkey claims to be a “secular” republic; a secular republic is supposed to treat all people — Muslims and non-Muslims — equally. The objective of the Diyanet (Presidency of Religious Affairs), on the other hand, is to keep religion (Islam) under the control of the state, and to keep the people under the control of the state by means of religion.
- “Those who are not genuine Turks can have only one right in the Turkish fatherland, and that is to be a servant, to be a slave. We are in the most free country of the world. They call this Turkey.” — Mahmut Esat Bozkurt, Turkey’s first Minister of Justice, 1930.
When many Western analysts discuss the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey, they rightfully criticize it for its religious intolerance, authoritarianism and lack of respect for secular principles and minorities. They also tend to compare the AKP to former Kemalist governments, and draw a distinction between the Islamist AKP and former non-Islamist governments.
They claim that Turkey was “secular” and somewhat “democratic,” until the AKP came to power.