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Thursday 29 October 2015 
AfK - Conference Hall - 6:30 pm
Social & political sciences

Dr. Hamit Bozarslan holds a PHD in history from the School of Higher Studies in Social Sciences (EHESS), Paris and a PHD in Political Science from the Institute of Political Studies (IEP). He is at present Director of Studies at EHESS. He has authored many books among which the most noteworthy are: A History of violence in Middle-East (2008), Political sociology of Middle-East (2011), History of Turkey from Empire to our days (2013), Luxury and violence. Domination and contestation according to Ibn Khaldun (2014) and Revolution and state of violence in Middle-East (2014)

  • Religion, secularism and nation in Turkey
    by Dr. Hamit BOZARSLAN
    Thursday 29 October - 6:30 pm - Alliance française - Conference Hall

    with panelist Dr. Tiago Ferreira Lopes
    Dr. Tiago Ferreira Lopesis an Assistant Professor of Political Sciences at the Department of Social Sciences and Liberal Arts at the Institute of Business and Administration (Pakistan). In addition, Tiago Ferreira Lopes is a researcher at the Orient Institute (Portugal); researcher at the Euro-Atlantic Diplomacy Association (Portugal); researcher at State Building and Fragility Monitor (Portugal); expert at Strategic Outlook (Turkey); Senior Analyst at WikiStrat (USA); member of the Advisory Council of the Youth Association for a Greater Europe (France); Academic Director at the Sustainable Leadership Initiative (India); Cross-Cultural Ambassador of Sorbonne’s University UNESCO Club (France), Senior Ambassador for the Youth to Youth Action Hub (Lithuania) and former Ambassador Honorarium to Seliger’s International Youth Forum (Russia).

(H. Bozarslan will give also lecture at Area Study Center for Europe, Karachi; Centre for Public Policy and Governance, Lahore).

Since the proclamation of the republic in 1923, Turkey has become the staging scene of two radical political experiments of which the second one is still in course. The first one covers the period of the presidency of Mustafa Kemal (1923-1938). It reached its zenith between 1924 and 1928: in 1924, the caliphate was abolished, in 1925 the Sufi brotherhoods were prohibited and European hat was made compulsory, in 1928 the Roman alphabet was adopted, Sunday was declared the weekly holiday and all mention of state religion was removed from the constitution. In the 1930’s, secularism officially became one of the fundamental principles of the constitution.

The second experiment started in reality in 1945 under the presidency of Ismet Inonu, but it gathered pace in the course of coming decades to reach its climax in the beginning of the 21st century. Though the laws have not been modified and secularism still figures among the fundamental constitutional principles, a gradual shift of the state towards conservatism has taken place. Army was for a long time considered as the sheet anchor of secularism, but since the arrival of AKP into power in 2002 the country has undergone a real “quiet revolution”. This has translated into an increasingly religious (Sunni) official discourse and transformation of moral values. Now the state presents itself as the instrument of the restoration of old values. There is insistence on the Islamic and Ottoman heritage of the country. The Turkish identity is defined by Islam and inversely Islam is defined by the Turkish identity; the Turks being considered as the protectors of the religion.

Although the rupture between the two periods is evident, some factors have remained invariable between the two periods: firstly, as different from the French model, the Turkish religious establishment does not possess any autonomy in relation to the state; it directly depends on it. Consequently, it’s an institution which has to implement the decisions which are imposed on it. Secondly, only the Sunnite Islam is recognized as legitimate; Alevite confession, which forms about 20 percent of the population is considered to be just a “popular belief: Thirdly, it needs to be underlined that Turkish people were cleansed of all non-Muslim content after the genocide of Armenians and exchange of population with Greece. The architects of this homogenization, for the most part, were neither believers nor religion-practicing persons, but they transformed the Islamic identity into a national identity marker; religious boundaries became ethnic boundaries. Lastly, while under Kemalism the religion, understood as system of beliefs, was associated with “backwardness” and considered “reactionary”, and the religious persons considered as potential internal enemies, in the second period the roles got inverted: now an ultra-conservative power defines the “westernized” persons as “alienated” from their society and considers them as a potential threat