CHP has way to go on religion: scholar

CHP has way to go on religion: scholar

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
CHP has way to go on religion: scholar

Istanbul University sociologist Taşçı criticized CHP’s approach to religion. AA photo

A scholar invited by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) to speak on Islam and democracy bluntly criticized the party’s approach on religion and urged a broad overhaul of its perceptions to attract conservatives.

“The CHP should change not only its perceptions but also its reality on religion. Putting [CHP] pins on black chadors is as weird as burning black chadors,” Istanbul University sociologist Serdar Taşçı said at the conference, which was held at the CHP headquarters late March 29 and attended by chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.

In recent years, the CHP has made efforts to shrug off its hard-line secularist image, including the memorable recruitment in 2008 of a group of women clad in black chadors. The party’s policies, however, have come into question amid contrasting moves such as the burning of chadors by a group of CHP women on another occasion.

Earlier this month, Kılıçdaroğlu insisted that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was deliberately portraying the CHP as anti-religious. “We will break this perception. The CHP respects the beliefs and values of all,” he said.

The conference, titled, “Freedom and justice in the context of Islamic thought and the theory of democracy theory,” was part of the party’s efforts to reach out to the pious electorate. Taşçı suggested that CHP officials should avoid all practices that would be perceived as disrespectful to religious values.
“Politicians should be respectful to all religious opinions. Any statement that could be perceived as religiously offensive may unexpectedly play an essential role in people’s political choices. Then, you cannot convince people that you respect religion,” Taşçı said. “In fact, not only a perception overhaul is required. The CHP should transform itself to adopt an absolutely tolerant and libertarian identity. And this identity should be publicized with political communication efforts.” Kılıçdaroğlu listened to the scholar until the end of his lengthy speech but did not stay for questions afterwards.