Two in three Turks favour secularism - pollster

Some 69 percent of Turks believe that Turkey needs secularism, according to a study by leading pollster Metropoll.

Metropoll founder Özer Sencar posted the outcome of the company’s most recent survey with the caption, “The way the people view the artificial agenda brought forth.”

September’s Turkey Pulse survey asked participants whether they believed secularism was necessary for Turkey, where secularism means the separation of religion and state. Only 25.8 percent of participants said they did not.

Those who don’t believe secularism is necessary rose by 5.5 points since August 2017, Metropoll found.

Going against recent statements by party officials, 56 percent of participants who voted for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the last elections said they believed secularism was necessary. Voters of AKP’s coalition partner, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), were even more in favour of secularism, 76.7 percent finding it necessary.

Current and former AKP officials have commented on the secularism clause of the Turkish constitution in recent weeks.

Most recently, former Parliamentary Speaker İsmail Kahraman, deputy chairman of the Presidential High Advisory Council, said  there should be no “non-amendable” articles in the constitution,  and spoke favourably towards including references to religion in the country’s foundational text.

Earlier in September, columnist and former AKP deputy Resul Tosun said the opposition had been “abusing” secularism and called for the principle to be removed from the constitution.

Since the inauguration of the Byzantine cathedral Hagia Sophia as a mosque in July 2020, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been accompanied by the head of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) Ali Erbaş in important ceremonies.

Erbaş recited prayers and gave a speech most recently on the first day of the new judicial year.

In the wake of fresh discussions, AKP Spokesman Ömer Çelik said the AKP was of the opinion that the principle of secularism “should be preserved in the Constitution”.

Erdoğan himself rejected rumours that his party was seeking to do away with secularism, lashing out at main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu in the process.

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