‘Democracy, Islam, and Secularism in Turkey’ features eight essays born out of two major conferences at Columbia University. Editors Kuru and Stepan address key questions in exploring the concept of state-religion relations in the context of Turkey’s evolving democracy: What place does religion have in public life? Does it even need to be addressed, and, if so, how can it be accommodated?
Let it be said once more: Turkey has changed a lot in recent years, especially over the course of the past decade. Alongside the nation’s economic growth, its society has witnessed significant transformations that have affected the way it views itself, as well as the way the world sees it.
What the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has brought about is not simply policies that encourage the generation of wealth or more proactive steps in diplomacy. Turkey is undergoing a philosophical shift. Things are changing in a way that does not just make people feel better about themselves as Turks or as citizens of Turkey; rather, they are being made to re-evaluate the very basis of the Turkish state — what it means, where it has been, where it is headed. And that is not always an easy task, especially given étatisme’s importance as a tenet in the foundation and organization of the Republic of Turkey. Questioning the heretofore unquestionable can provoke powerful challenges. Continue reading