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Turkey fears of Islamic challenge to secular state

Published time: April 15, 2013 10:43
Edited time: April 15, 2013 11:27

A Turkish woman wearing a headscarf walks past posters in central Istanbul. (AFP Photo / Cem Turkel)

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Turkish pianist Fazil Say received a suspended 10-month jail term on Monday for mocking Islam on Twitter. Secular Turks have become increasingly concerned over what they see as the creeping Islamization of society.

"Honestly, we were not expecting this ruling, and all I can say is, both legally and for the country, it's a sad decision," Say's lawyer Meltem Akyol told Reuters.

The blasphemy charges were brought against Say in June last year. In their suit, prosecutors cited several sarcastic messages about believers and Islamic concepts of Heaven. The musician, who has served as a cultural ambassador to the European Union, denied the accusations.

RT’s Maria Finoshina reported from Turkey how residents are concerned by the growing dominance of Islamic values: Censorship is imposed on TV shows, museums are turned into mosques, and attempts are even being made to introduce Ottoman-style uniforms for flight attendants.

Turkish women fear their rights are being infringed even though they are seemingly free to wear and do what they want.

The reformed education system is split into three parts of four years each, the result - thousands of girls leave school before the end, encouraging young marriages. The state promotes having at least five kids. Only three out of ten women today go to work. It’s far from a democratic model of society,” says Şenal Sarihan, the head of the group Women of the Republic.  

The Turkish opposition speaks of a dangerous tendency: nine decades after Turkey broke with the Islamic rule of the Ottoman Empire in favor of an anti-clerical, pro-Western vision, the ideas and values that were rejected appear to some to be making a comeback.

We are very concerned because Turkey is a secular democracy. But Islam has become the only reference. It says what to do, what to wear, what to eat, what not to eat,” Faruk Logoglu, CHP party vice-chairman said.

Turkey under Erdogan has made impressive progress. Its economy is booming and its role in the region and internationally, is increasing. Now, the secular part of the Turkish society is worried all of that could be harmed by Turkey getting ultra-religious and going the Ottoman empire way.

More on that in Maria Finoshina's report.

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