The war on Turkish secularism

This New Year’s Eve armed men stormed Club Reina in Istanbul, latest reports say 35 people are dead. Wanted or not, the attack plays into the agenda of the Turkish government’s war on secularism.

Turkey’s AKP-led government has made it no secret that it wishes to change the very nature of the Turkish state slowly tearing away at its secular roots while pushing an Islamic agenda to take its place via the democratic process.

One way it is trying to do this is by altering its constitution. In April of 2016 parliament leader Ismail Kahraman said Turkey’s new constitution should be based on religion, not ideals of secularism. Yes, Turkeys founding father Kemal Ataturk is turning in his grave. According to Kahraman the Muslim-majority country needs a new “religious constitution”. Secularism has failed, he said.

Another way in which the government is fighting this war is via parliament. The AKP has held a virtual single party majority in Turkey since 2002. Through this majority they have promoted an islamist agenda and religious conservatism by stealth.

Al-monitor gives the following examples:

  • Pressure on the opposition media, so-called “reforms” that pave the way for Islamic teaching in primary education.
  • The campaign against contemporary theaters and the lawsuit against the world-famous pianist Fazil Say on charges of “insulting Islam” are all adding to the misgivings about the “real intentions of the AKP.”
  • The unexpected initiation of the abortion debate by Erdogan.
  • Reports that opera houses and even kindergartens will be required to have prayer halls and the pending launch of a TRT (state TV/radio network) Islamic channel fuel additional concerns about the AKP.

President Erdogan has been vocal about his party’s vision for the country saying that the AKP wants to “create a religious generation and that they aspire to a single religion in Turkey.”

Though the AKP condemns violence (as I am sure they will condemn this attack on Club Reina) they are aided in their attempt to destroy secular society in Turkey by violent supporters and extremist groups.

One pertinent example came in June of 2016 during the month of Ramadan when a mob of men beat up Radiohead fans in a record store in Istanbul while they were listening to the bands new album and drinking a beer. The mob was infuriated that the record store was playing music and serving alcohol during their holy month. The Islamist mob has become a weapon of terror that supports the conservative agenda in the country of Atarurk.

And then there are the most extreme of terror attacks, like the attack on Club Reina this evening. The responsibility for this act of terror has apparently been taken by ISIS but in reality it doesn’t matter who did it because the result stays the same: another blow has been brought to secular society.

The victims are not in majority conservative AKP voters, they do not visit nightclubs such as Reina. This act of war is not targeted against them. It is an attack on the liberal and secular way of life in Istanbul. It is an attack on liberals and secularists. Against the people who go to clubs and dance the night away. Against those who might have a drink at a bar where alcohol is served and women dance freely with their hair out.

The war on secularism is fought on many fronts by different factions. It is fought democratically though parliament. At times it is fought in the streets by the mob. And less often (but with a big impact) it is fought by spilling blood.

Though these factions may not all agree on each others method of opperating, their purpose is the same: the destruction of the secular nature of Turkish government.


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