Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, Vol 25, No 3 (2012)

The Changing Nature of Turkish Islam in the Public Sphere

Derya Akguner
Issued Date: 24 May 2013


The role and prevalence of religion in the public sphere in Turkey has evolved substantially since the formation of the Republic in 1923. These changes have accelerated over the past three decades and changes have become particularly obvious since the AKP came to power in 2002. Turkey formally adopted laïcité in 1937 prohibiting overt signs of piety in public. However, religion was never completely eliminated from the public sphere and remained vitally important to many in Turkish society. In the past decade many factors have refashioned the positioning of Islam in Turkey. These include: the changing nature of the elite; the rapid urbanisation of Turkish society characterised by unprecedented migration from the East; a growing middle class; a robust civil society; and increased ties with its Muslim majority neighbours. As a result, Islam’s position in the public sphere has strengthened along with perceptions and expectations of Islam’s place in Turkish society. This article explores these changes and seeks to explain what is driving them.

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DOI: 10.1558/arsr.v25i3.229


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