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Islam and Religious Education in Turkey

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Modern Turkey – a member of NATO and a candidate for membership in the European Union - continues to struggle to find an appropriate balance between religion and state. Turkey offers an excellent case study for those seeking answers to the following questions: Can Islam and democracy coexist? Is Turkey a secular state, is religion separated from the state in Turkey - as it is said in its Constitution: “The Turkish State is a Republic” and is it “a democratic, secular and social state governed by the rule of law ...” (1-2 Articles, Constitution of Turkiye). Is everybody equal before the law in terms of access to education and labor market, as it is said in the Constitution: “All individuals are equal without any discrimination before the law, irrespective of language, race, color, sex, political opinion, philosophical belief, religion and sect, or any such considerations?”(10 Article, Constitution of Turkiye). Since the establishment of the Republic in 1923, one of the most controversial and debated issues in Turkey has been the question of religious education. The issue is still topical. The present paper considers teaching religion in Turkey in 3 chronological periods: from 1923 up to1982; from 1982 to 1995 and from 1995 to 2009. A historic survey is also introduced.

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