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Religion and Secularity

99% of the Turkish population is Moslem. The remaining is composed of Orthodox Christians, Gregorian Christians, Catholic, Suryani and Protestant Christians, and Jews. Although most of the population is Moslem, Turkey is a secular country and everyone has freedom of religion and beliefs. No one can be forced to participate in religious ceremonies or rites against their will and no blame can be attached to anyone because of their beliefs.

The 600 years Islamic reigned Ottoman empire collapsed in the 1920's and after the independence war leaded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk the principle of secularism introduced to the Turkish people.

Turkey is the only country among the Islamic countries which has included secularism in her Constitution and practices it. With the abolition of the Caliphate and the Ministry of Shariah (Islamic Law) and Foundations, on 3 March 1924 during the Republic period, significant steps were taken on the course to secularism and by providing the unification of education and later the unification of the judiciary. These steps were followed by other steps such as the Hat Reform, closure of the Sects and Convents, changing the weekly holiday from Friday to Sunday and the adoption of the Latin alphabet and the Gregorian calendar. Finally, with an amendment put into practice with Law No. 3115 dated 5 February 1937, "secularism" became a constitutional principle. Although the concept of "secularism" was included in the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey in 1937, the principle of secularism had existed "de facto" since the foundation of the Republic.

 

Along with the abolition of the Caliphate on 3 March 1924, on the same date, the "Chairmanship of Religious Affairs" responsible for the administration of religious affairs was formed, within the state structure, as an organization connected to the Prime Ministry. The function of this organization is to carry out activities related to the beliefs of the Islamic religion, the principles of worship and morality, and to enlighten society on the subject of religious issues and to manage the places of worship. The organization of the Chairmanship of Religious Affairs with its present functional structure is composed of the central and rural organizations and the organizations abroad. The Chairmanship of Religious Affairs is represented by Muftis in the provinces and counties. It is organized to assist Moslem Turkish citizens in Turkey, and those working abroad, to fulfill their religious services, with its staff of more than 80 thousand persons. The Chairmanship of Religious Affairs tries to instill the principles of Islam, such as unity, cooperation and helping one another, among the Turkish people according to the principles specified in the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey, by aiming at national solidarity and unity and remaining above all kinds of political views and thoughts. Islam...

 

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