Tok Essay

Islam is the largest religion of Turkey. More than 99 percent of the population is Muslim, mostly Sunni. The Shia Alevi community, a distinct Muslim sect, make up 20 percent of the population. Christianity (Oriental Orthodoxy, Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic) and Judaism are the other religions in practice, but the non-Muslim population declined in the early 2000s.[1][2][3][4]

Turkey is officially a secular state with no official religion since the constitutional amendment in 1924 and later strengthened in the Kemalist Ideology, alongside the Atatürk's reforms and the appliance of laïcité by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk at the end of 1937. To some Turks, Islam is an important part of Turkish life. Its application to join the EU divided existing members, some of which questioned whether a Muslim country could fit in. Turkey accused its EU opponents of favouring a "Christian club".[5]

Beginning in the 1980s, the role of religion in the state has been a divisive issue, as influential factions challenged the complete secularization called for by Kemalism and the observance of Islamic practices experienced a substantial revival. In the early 2000s, Islamic groups challenged the concept of the secular state with increasing vigor after the Erdoğan government had calmed the issue in 2003.

The secular nature of the Turkish republic is also strongly disputed[citation needed], as the state in reality provides huge advantages to the followers of the Sunni Islam, few to other Muslims (as Alevi and Shia), and discriminates all non-Muslims. Thousands of Sunni imams receive state salaries, whereas the other religions receive as good as nothing[citation needed], and whereas the Turkish Orthodox Christians are even prohibited in training their own clergy in Turkey[citation needed].

The fierce nationalism of the Sunni Muslims in Turkey includes frequent removal of any reference to this contentious issue of the privileges given by the Turkish state to their...