Non-believers equal to believers, President Gül says
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
The state should stand at an equal distance to members of all beliefs and ones who do not hold a belief, President Abdullah Gül says on secularism. AA photoNeither faith nor lack of faith should be a basis for discrimination and inequality, and the state should treat all faith groups and those without religious beliefs equally, President Abdullah Gül has said.
“Regarding and implementing the principle of secularism as a principle of freedom and peace, with an understanding that sees differences as richness, will be an assurance of living in unity, peace and serenity in our country, which is home to many diverse faith groups,” Gül said in a message delivered on the 76th anniversary of the inclusion of the principle of secularism in the Constitution.
“Beliefs or non-beliefs should not be used as a basis for discrimination or inequality, the state should stand at an equal distance to members of all beliefs and ones who do not hold a belief; everybody should be able to express themselves and practice their belief or non-belief,” he said.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in a statement on the same occasion that the principle of secularism should not favor a particular segment of society, without openly naming a segment that had been favored and or saying whether one had been favored.
“Interpretation of the principle of secularism in a way that will provide privileges to a certain segment of society – before all else – cannot comply with our democracy and democratic culture, which aims to embrace all segments of society on the basis of equality and justice and without discriminating based on race, religion, language, sect or social segment,” Erdoğan said.
As defined in the Constitution, the Republic of Turkey is a democratic, secular and social state governed by the rule of law, he said, noting that fundamental principles cannot be viewed as separate or as superior to one another. He added that the principle of secularism should be interpreted with a “unifying” approach toward society.
Since his party first came to power in 2002, as a religious person, Erdoğan has often said, “Individuals cannot be secular, states are.”