Atheists in Turkey on the increase, new poll shows

A latest research poll has shown that Turkish atheists follow Islamic values more than Muslims as the number of atheists sharply increases.

This finding comes from the latest research conducted by KONDA, the Turkish research and consultancy firm.

The firm’s findings come despite the fact that Turkey has been governed for the past seventeen years by the Islamist Justice and Development Party.

The report states that in the last ten years, atheists numbers increased from one percent to three percent and those who call themselves religious fell from 55 percent to 51 percent in a country known as its “99 percent Muslim” society.  

Cemil Kılıç, a theologian in Turkey, said in an interview with Turkish Deutsche Welle that atheists locally follow Islamic values more than Muslims.

“Turkish society is 99 percent Muslim but it is a cultural and sociological Islam. Those who pray Salah (daily prayers),  perform the pilgrimage, and wear head scarfs are recognised as Muslim in Turkey but Islam does not only consist of these rituals. However, the definition of religiosity must include moral values and human rights. According to my observation, real Muslims percentage is nor more than 60 percent in Turkey.”

Mosques Politicised 

Kılıç argues Turkish people conduct five-time prayers a day as it is a symbol to obey to Sultan (King), state and the government as similar to the practice of Muslims under the Umayyad Caliphate in the 6th and 7th century.

Kılıç said that Imams in the mosques makes political sermons reflecting the policies of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) more often in recent years.

“We witness that deists and atheists carry better moral values and conscience than people known as Muslims. AKP has ruled Turkey for seventeen years. Under this rule, we were supposed to see Muslims increasing. People now react to the conception of Islam represented by Jamaats (religious groups), sects, official and political power.”

Turkish Atheism Society’s president Selin Ozkohen also made similar comments to those of Kılıç, following KONDA’s report.

“With the desire to create a devout generation, AKP put Turkish people under pressure. Religious Jamaats also don’t represent Islam properly. We have been arguing that religious groups cannot rule Turkey. Many things went wrong under this so-called religious rule and people now question the religion. Turkeys citizens want to believe and follow a more humanistic approach and many of them are now atheists.   

Religiosity Leads to Chaos 

Ozkohen pointed out that in recent years, religiosity has led to chaos in Turkey. “Religious people who live in luxury life organised a coup against each other. Ordinary Turks don’t want to be part of this ruling religious class and whoever believe in scientific thinking, use their logic start to question the religion.”

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