Dec. 3, 2019
“Everyone is equal before the law regardless of his language, race, sex, color, political opinion, philosophy, religious belief, sect…” — Turkish Constitution, Article 10.
Why was the teacher suspended? Simple — even though Turkish officials cannot officially say what got unmasked as an open secret. The Conscious Teachers Association stated: “It is unacceptable that a teacher of religious culture in a country where 90% of the people are Muslim is not Muslim herself”.
If a Muslim Turkish teacher were suspended in Christian-majority Germany because he is Muslim, they would turn the world upside down. They would rush to the European Court of Human Rights decrying religious discrimination. But in Turkey, religious discrimination against non-Muslims is fine because Turkey is 90% Muslim.
A century ago, Christians made up 20% of Turkey’s population. Today they are at just 0.2%. But the Turkish mindset is still fearful of a handful of fellow citizens belonging to a different religion.
In theory, Turkey has a secular regime. Its constitution dictates the state and its institutions to be at equal distance to every faith, including no faith. In theory, discrimination based on religious belief is a criminal offense. Turkey’s Islamist strongman, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said he is at equal distance to every faith, and that he is against “religious nationalism”, and he told the media at the White House on November 13 that Turkey would restore damaged churches in Syria.
In reality, however, Erdoğan and his Islamist governance stand as an excellent example to illustrate how political Islam cannot be secular.
The 2019 annual report by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) concluded that the Turkish government continues to discriminate against the minority Alevi community, and interfere in the affairs of what remains of the country’s historic Armenian and Greek Orthodox populations.