Deputy PM Arınç touches on Turkey’s dilemma of secularism
ISTANBUL - Doğan News Agency
Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç (L) attends a halal and healthy food fair in Istanbul. Arınç says the Turkish Republic is a secular state but adds that it cannot remain indifferent to the demands of the pious. AA photoDeputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç has defined secularism as “freedom of faith” and “providing opportunities to people who want to live in accordance with their religion and conscience,” speaking during a halal food fair in Istanbul today.
“Secularism is freedom of religion and conscience. Secularism is to be able to provide opportunity to those who want to live in accordance with their religion and conscience,” said Arınç.
The deputy prime minister was speaking at the opening ceremony of the halal and healthy food fair, which started at the CNR Expo and will remain open until Sept. 8.
“The Turkish Republic is a secular, social law state. I have no objection to that. In a secular state, the Parliament cannot make a rule from the Quran as a law … But in a country where real secularism rules, the state cannot remain indifferent to or reject the demands of the pious. The state supports the private sector to realize their [pious] preferences and never rejects the regulations for their demands and needs,” said Arınç.
He added that there had previously been a mistaken stance against halal food in Turkey and those who demanded halal food had become an object of derision over the years.
“If one says my belief orders me to eat this, then we have to respect that. It is absurd to discuss this. We have to provide these foods to those who prefer them,” Arınç said.
“If you take secularism with the understanding of a forceful state, this means turning the state into an open prison. If my belief orders [me to eat] this halal food, then I will eat it. I will not intervene in what others eat, let them eat whatever they want … We don’t say that the state must make this [halal food] compulsory for everyone. But we have to give a certificate and a license to those who prefer these foods,” he added.
Arınç described as “stupid” those who consider people who prefer halal food to be “anti-secularist” or “reactionary.”
“We cannot remain indifferent to the demands of the pious. I know that awareness in this respect is becoming stronger in Turkey,” he also added.