of the Turkish population is Moslem. The remaining is composed of
Orthodox Christians, Gregorian Christians, Catholic, Suryani and
Protestant Christians, and Jews. Although most of the population
is Moslem, Turkey is a secular country and everyone has freedom
of religion and beliefs. No one can be forced to participate in
religious ceremonies or rites against their will and no blame can
be attached to anyone because of their beliefs.
The 600 years Islamic reigned Ottoman empire collapsed in the 1920's
and after the independence war leaded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk the
principle of secularism introduced to the Turkish people.
Turkey is the only country among the Islamic countries which has
included secularism in her Constitution and practices it. With the
abolition of the Caliphate and the Ministry of Shariah (Islamic
Law) and Foundations, on 3 March 1924 during the Republic period,
significant steps were taken on the course to secularism and by
providing the unification of education and later the unification
of the judiciary. These steps were followed by other steps such
as the Hat Reform, closure of the Sects and Convents, changing the
weekly holiday from Friday to Sunday and the adoption of the Latin
alphabet and the Gregorian calendar. Finally, with an amendment
put into practice with Law No. 3115 dated 5 February 1937, "secularism"
became a constitutional principle. Although the concept of "secularism"
was included in the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey in 1937,
the principle of secularism had existed "de facto" since the foundation
of the Republic.
Along with the abolition of the Caliphate on 3 March 1924, on the
same date, the "Chairmanship of Religious Affairs" responsible for
the administration of religious affairs was formed, within the state
structure, as an organization connected to the Prime Ministry. The
function of this organization is to carry out activities related
to the beliefs of the Islamic religion, the principles of worship
and morality, and to enlighten society on the subject of religious
issues and to manage the places of worship. The organization of
the Chairmanship of Religious Affairs with its present functional
structure is composed of the central and rural organizations and
the organizations abroad. The Chairmanship of Religious Affairs
is represented by Muftis in the provinces and counties. It is organized
to assist Moslem Turkish citizens in Turkey, and those working abroad,
to fulfill their religious services, with its staff of more than
80 thousand persons. The Chairmanship of Religious Affairs tries
to instill the principles of Islam, such as unity, cooperation and
helping one another, among the Turkish people according to the principles
specified in the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey, by aiming
at national solidarity and unity and remaining above all kinds of
political views and thoughts.