The experience of Secularisation in modern Turkey: Secularisation from above

  • Kayhan Delibas


It has been observed that since the early 1990s the issue of secularisation has been at the heart of countless heated debates and the main cause of many major political crises. It can even be said that the recent political history of Turkey has revolved around the unprecedented rise of political Islam and consequently the question and the future of secularisation. Pro-Islamic parties have entered into the democratic electoral process and shown a considerable strength. This process began with the municipal elections (1994) in which the pro-Islamic Welfare Party (WP) gained control of several metropolitan municipalities including Istanbul and Ankara. One year later (1995) the same party formed the first Islamic-led government. Although the WP government was forced out of office in 1997, it produced the pro-Islamic AK Party (Justice and Development Party), which was founded by a group of WP’s young cadre and won a landslide victory in the 2002 general election by gaining two thirds of the seats (65 percent in parliament). This latest election result not only removed the old, corrupt political elites and all of the mainstream political parties from the political landscape, it also triggered yet another wave of crises over key issues such as the future of secularisation, the ban on headscarves in the public realm (in schools for example) and the future of religious schools.


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© VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften | GWV Fachverlage GmbH, Wiesbaden 2006

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  • Kayhan Delibas

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