I don’t know a better alternative to democracy, but democracy sure can be scary. If, hypothetically, we let Americans vote in a referendum on whether they want to keep the already-porous wall between state and church intact, I wouldn’t bet that a majority is going to stand up for the First Amendment and its Establishment Clause.
That’s by way of introducing you to Turkey’s parliament speaker Ismail Kahraman, who wants to substitute Turkey’s secular constitution for a religious one. That’s completely at odds with founding father Mustafa Kemal Atatürk‘s vision of a secular republic. But Kahraman’s proposal might not prove to be that unpopular in a country where more than 90 percent of the population is said to identify as Muslim.
Via the Independent:
Speaker Ismail Kahraman, who is drafting the new charter, also said the new constitution should drop references to secularism, while lamenting the fact Allah is not mentioned in the constitution. His comments were met by condemnation from the opposition and a brief street protest on Tuesday. …
“For one thing, the new constitution should not have secularism,” Mr. Kahraman said, according to videos of his speech published by Turkish media. “It needs to discuss religion … It should not be irreligious, this new constitution, it should be a religious constitution.” On Tuesday, he clarified his remarks, saying secularism had been used to limit freedoms in Turkey. A clearer definition “that does not bring the state and the people against each other” should be included in the new constitution, he added.
Kahraman’s attempt to officially desecularize the country isn’t necessarily wishful thinking on his part. In recent years,
President Tayyip Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have tried to restore the role of religion to public life.
So far, though, Erdoğan claims he is not on board with the speaker’s desired changes.
Defending Turkey’s secularism, he said: “My views are known on this … The reality is that the state should have an equal distance from all religious faiths.” Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has assured the parliament Turkey’s new constitution will include the principle of secularism.
I’ll drink a rakı to that.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Dave for the link)