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AKP seeks to ease state regulation over religion

Hürriyet Daily News, 09.07.2012,

The AKP files proposals on religion and education to the constutiton commission. The supervision of religion by the State is excluded in the proposals while the AKP also gives a green light on education in Kurdish

This file photo shows a meeting from the constution committee’s visit to the ruling Justice and Development Party. Cemil Çiçek (L) the head of the comission and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (R) pose with the committee members. AA photo

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has filed proposals on two critical chapters to the Constitution Conciliation Committee, aiming to curb the state’s authority over religious education.
In the AKP proposal, the phrase existing in the current constitution that “religious education is supervised by the state” is not included, opening way to private religious education, primarily from certain communities, in this field. At the same time, the AKP is proposing a new arrangement, very different from the present constitution, opening the way to headscarf-wearers in the public sector and in universities.


The AKP proposals have been confirmed for the Hürriyet Daily News by two non-AKP members of the commission from different parties. The AKP article proposal on “freedom of religion and belief” is made up of three clauses. First, everybody has freedom of religion and belief. This freedom includes practicing one’s religion or beliefs alone or with a community outdoors or indoors by worshiping, educating, training, practicing and conducting ceremonies, and also expressing one’s religion or belief or changing one’s religion or belief. The second proposal says that nobody can be forced into worshiping and practicing religion, joining religious ceremonies, or revealing their religious beliefs and thoughts. The third proposal stipulates that while the state should do its duty in the educational and training fields, it should also comply with the demands of parents asking for religious education and training to be conducted according to their religious and philosophical beliefs. The teaching of religious culture and ethics is among the compulsory classes in elementary and secondary educational institutions.

In the present constitution, there is a special emphasis that “religious education can only be conducted under the supervision and monitoring of the state.” The non-inclusion of this phrase creates the opportunity for religious communities to conduct religious education independently.

The AKP also seeks to open the way to “enjoying the freedom of religion and belief by conducting worshipping or ceremonies outdoors.” According to the AKP proposal, there is no limit to the freedom of religion, which is seen as the first sign of pursuing the right to wear headscarf in universities or public facilities.

The second AKP surprise is in education. The proposal does not include the existing article: “education in mother tongue can only be made in Turkish.” With this, a green light has been lit for Kurdish. In this article, the AKP has also excluded the phrase: “education is run according to Atatürk’s principles and revolutions.”

The AKP proposal has also excluded the clause that required education to be conducted according to Atatürk’s principles and in compliance with the basis of contemporary science.

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