Today’s Zaman 20.09.2011
Cem Foundation President Doğan spoke at the release of the study, “Belief Groups in Turkey: A new framework aimed at issues and demands,” hosted by the İstanbul Policy Center at Sabancı University and its Education Reform Initiative.
A number of religious groups’ leaders who gathered on Monday to introduce a study on the demands of various religious groups in Turkey said that the new constitution of the country should be secular.
“This is a Sunni state because the Religious Affairs Directorate sponsors only the affairs of Sunni adherents of Islam. No Jewish, no Christian, no Alevi can get a cent from the huge budget of the directorate. There is no such secular state in the world,” said İzzettin Doğan, the head of the Cem Foundation, an Alevi organization.
Speaking at the release of the study, “Belief Groups in Turkey: A new framework aimed at issues and demands,” hosted by the İstanbul Policy Center at Sabancı University and its Education Reform Initiative, Doğan emphasized the importance of being neutral, non-discriminative and maintaining an equal distance to all belief groups in a secular state.
“The Religious Affairs Directorate should be restructured from A to Z to include all religious groups,” Doğan added and said that their work will help to push the government to not put its intentions to make a new constitution aside.
Tosun Terzioğlu, the rector of Sabancı University, who opened the meeting that was attended by religious leaders of almost all faiths in Turkey, said that a new and pro-freedoms constitution is necessary in today’s Turkey, which has been going through a process of transformation.
A debate for a new constitution has been ongoing in Turkey, which still has the military-sponsored Constitution of 1982 that came after the Sept. 12, 1980 military coup that restricts many individual freedoms — including freedom of religion.
Speaking also at the opening of the meeting, Turkish Syriac Catholic Bishop Yusuf Sağ called on all representatives of the Turkish Parliament to keep an equal distance to all citizens in Turkey regardless of their belief system.
“When we demand such a constitution, we demand our basic rights as citizens, we don’t ask for a favor,” he said.