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Identify this
Emine Erdoğan -- türbanlı wife of the Turkish Prime Minister
Famous Türk Picture Series
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In Turkey - Türkiye'de

In Turkey - Türkiye'de

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Religious Studies
'Religious Attitudes' Survey

In Turkey - Türkiye'de

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The religious-right AKP government...
Stuck in religious quicksand?

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Religious Study -- AKP government in a religious quaqmire?

Unemployed worker to his wife and small child:
"The government is still arguing about
turban headcoverings for women
and their effect on the next Turkish Presidency --
and they didn't get to our unemployment problem again.
So I hope you'll understand that
we'll be hungry again today,
dear wife..."

Thanks to Gözcü Gazetesi
18 June 2005

Muslim or Turkish first?
Turban Power in the Turkish Nation

My Pal Jerry messaged me the other day asking if I had any comments about the NY Times article of November 28, 2006 entitled 'Allure of Islam Signals a Shift Within Turkey' by Sabrina Tavernise.

So I read Ms. Tavernise's article -- and (overlooking a few strong differences I had with what she wrote, such as her citation of the useless Pew Report from earlier this year -- as if it were any way authoritative [see our blog at Pew Stinks), I thought she made an informative addition to the dialogue on 'religious attitudes' in Turkey.

A pivotal point of Ms. Tavernise's article -- that 'Turks who identify themselves by their religion has increased to 45 percent this year, from 36 percent in 1999' -- was drawn from the findings of a new 'religious attitudes' survey prepared by The Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (Türkiye Ekonomik ve Sosyal Etüdler Vakfı -- TESEV). The TESEV survey, entitled 'Religion, Society and Politics in the Changing Turkey' (Değişen Türkiye'de Din Toplum ve Siyaset) had been reported in Hürriyet Gazetesi six days before Ms. Taverline's dateline -- and it contained some other interesting and revealing discoveries...

  • 51% of those polled this year believe that the wife of the next Turkish President should not wear a religiously-symbolic turban in public. (Since the most likely candidate for the Presidency in May 2007 is the current Prime Minister and AKP religious-right party-leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan [whose wife always wears a turban in public -- see photo at upper left], that 51% majority is a little on the thin side for those who favor a secular state in Turkey...)

  • 8% of those who currently shun religiously-symbolic headcoverings said, 'If everyone around me starts to wear a headcovering, I'll have to follow suit.'

    In a similar TESEV poll taken in 1999, 36 percent said they were 'Religious (Muslim) first' compared to 21 percent who said they were 'Turkish first.' In this year's poll, those declaring themselves 'Religious (Muslim) first' have increased to 45 percent -- the percentage of those in the 'Turkish first' category has declined to just 19%.

    This year's study tries to downplay the above-noted increase in religious identity among Turks -- saying that it doesn't indicate a desire for an Islamic State. According to the study, the desire for 'a Shariah-based (Islamic law) Religious State' has dropped significantly from 21 percent to 9 percent since 1999. Even among strong religious-right conservative AKP supporters, those who desire an Islamic State amount to less than 14% -- which is only about 4.2% of the total Turkish population.

    To further support the pro-secular sentiment, let's not forget the recent poll (reported in Gözcü Gazetesi during November 2006) that indicates a drop in voter support for the religious-right AKP from 34% (when they won the national election in November 2002) to 25% as we enter the next national election year in 2007.

    In Turkey - Türkiye'de

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    Dr. Can Paker, Director of TESEV, admits to the public perception that the number of headcovering (türbanlı) females has increased since 1999, but he insists that the real number has actually decreased. Dr. Paker says that, 'As incomes have increased the number of türbanlı headcoverers has decreased (from 16 to 11%). The incorrect public perception arises because headcoverers -- who used to stay at home -- are now coming out in public due to their increased affluence.'

    The most worrisome aspect of the report from Dr. Paker's viewpoint is that a "them and us" attitude is developing within Turkish society -- which has mushroomed since the AKP religious-right government came to power in 2003. To support Dr. Paker's view, 71% of those polled in 2006 thought that too much friction exists between religionists and secularists. That's up from 50% in 1999.

    Will this religion-rooted turmoil ever end in Turkey?
    It's not likely --
    unless and until Turks can do a better job
    of separating religion and politics...
    assuming, of course, that they truly have the desire to do so.
    The jury is still (way) out on that one.

    Comments

    Posted by Ameer | February 12, 2007

    The chapter of Nur or Light in the Qur'an does not say anything about covering the head/arms or legs because they were already covered. It says to take the head covering and to cover the chest (bosom) because that was open. Those who see it as a political symbol in Turkey should have their eyes examined or rather their brainwashed views on religious belief that has been warped by their narrow minded understanding of secularism, similar to that of France but entirely different from that of my country -- the USA. It allows freedom of religion without freedom from religion. The concept of a modern woman in Turkey is one with free flowing hair and a stylish outfit. Secular fetishists see the headscarf as a political symbol of preferring shari'at or religious law for Turkey and downplay its purely religious obligation as a Islamic standard of modesty. France regards it as a religious symbol and wishes to assimilate Turks and Muslims to the French standard of modesty and values. Turkey does not allow girls to go to school with head coverings or women to work in government offices thus depriving them of an education and a livelihood similar to what the Taliban did. We should spend more time worrying about what is in the heads of our women and men and not what is on top of them. The hat law in Turkey which is still on the books but not enforced requires men to wear a hat with a brim because K. Ataturk felt that this would gain the respect of Europeans while the Fez was the subject of ridicule. Many countries proudly wear a national dress and find no need to imitate others who are deemed to be superior. The secular Turkish fanatics are using secularism to interfere with private religious practices. They should distinguish between Islamic views which may challenge secular views but are not by themselves a threat. We can have a democratic and a balanced secular view without oppressing a segment of society that puts its religious beliefs as primary and its nationalist views in proper perspective being patriotic but not having ethnic fanaticism. Respectfully...

    In Turkey - Türkiye'de

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