Religious body wants secularism
Göksel Bozkurt ANKARAThe Religious Affairs Foundation has highlighted the principle of secularism in its presentation for Turkey’s new constitution, arguing radicalism and excessive conservative pressure in Iran were alienating its people from Islam.
“Religious values in Iran have weakened in the past 30 years, while the mullah class has become richer amid an increasing climate of oppression,” Chairman Süleyman Necati Akçeşme reportedly said. He presented the foundation’s views Dec. 5 at the related sub-panel of the Constitution Conciliation Commission, which is tasked with drafting the new charter.
The foundation objected to suggestions that the Directorate of Religious Affairs become an autonomous institution and said the current mandatory religion classes in grade schools could be made optional.
The Hacı Bektaş Anadolu Veli Culture Foundation, for its part, demanded amendments that would pave the way for the return to the Alevi community of dervish convents confiscated by the state. It also voiced opposition to mandatory religion classes while demanding the most prominent Alevi religious day be recognized as a public holiday. Unlike the Religious Affairs Foundation, it said the Directorate of Religious Affairs should be either abolished or made an independent body.
The sub-commission is scheduled to meet with representatives of non-Muslim minorities next week, starting with the Jewish 500th Year Foundation.