I have lived for about 20 years abroad and when I returned, I expected to find an Islamized Turkey under Erdogan, who has ruled the country since 2002. Things have changed. For example, discrimination against women with turbans disappeared.
Of course, there is government’s favoritism toward religious organizations, and there are more religious TV shows, however secularism stands strong, and defended vigorously by the opposition.
In fact, to my surprise the US seems less secular than Turkey. In Turkey politics doesn’t revolve around religion (unless Erdogan does or says something controversial). Prostitution and abortion are still legal, and they are not talked about.
In many aspects, Islamists in Turkey are like the American Evangelicals, so much so that, Islamists often teach their children translated books of them. However, there is one important aspect they differ from each other: Turkey, including Islamists, have high regard for science and scientists (except for evolutionary biology, of course).
Islamists are proud of BioNTech-Pfizer’s COVID vaccine used in Turkey because one of the scientists who developed it is a Turkish German. Although they believe the 6-day creation myth, they consider it 6 eras, and no one claims creation took 6 days. They accept the age of the Earth as 4.5 billion years. None of them discusses Noah, or other myths in the Quran; they accept myths are unverifiable.
WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN?
In Turkey, there are conservative, liberal, and nationalist secularists, and apparently, at least partially, secularist Islamists, in comparison to American creationists.
Is Turkey very secular? Perhaps not. However the current dire situation in the US makes Turkey look so.
Image Credit: Kemal Ataturk, prominent founding father of Turkey