Turkish police clash with secularists


Police using tear gas, smoke bombs and water cannons failed to stop thousands of secularists who forged ahead to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s mausoleum in a march that highlighted the divide over secularism on the 89th anniversary of the founding of modern Turkey. 

Police removed roadblocks as tens of thousands of flag-waving secularists marched to the mausoleum of Turkey’s founder following clashes outside the parliament building in Ankara where Ataturk declared the republic, CNN-Turk television said. 

“Some policemen kicked youths who only wanted to unfurl Turkish flags,” Kemal Kilicdaroglu, head of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), told CNN-Turk. “It is very sad. How can a government that is against the republic call itself the government of the republic?”

Thousands of people holding national flags gather at the Ataturk mausoleum to celebrate Republic Day and demand the government uphold secular traditions. Photo: AFP

Marchers were reacting to the Islamic-rooted government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which they accuse of raising the profile of Islam in predominantly Muslim and officially secular Turkey. The government has recently allowed Koran courses in schools while lifting the ban on graduates of imam and preacher schools to become military cadets.

The crowd included supporters of the CHP as well as smaller opposition parties and more than 40 non-governmental organisations that shunned official celebrations at a nearby stadium, CNN-Turk said. Mr Erdogan invited people to join celebrations at a stadium in Ankara while cabinet members accused the opposition party of attempting to divide the public.

Written By: Selcan Hacaoglu
continue to source article at theage.com.au


  1. Because the distinction between Europe and Asia lacks geographical objectivity, Turkey has long seen a case to be made for its being a “European” nation, and there have been efforts to add it to the EU. There has been much controversy surrounding this effort, with most critics of the proposal objecting not on the grounds of Eurasian semantics, but because they feel Turkey is just not the right sort of nation to be in the EU. In short, it’s not felt by everyone that its democratic, secularist credentials are adequate; Turkey denies all charges against it, as it were. There are times when I wonder whether the UK “deserves”, in this sense, to belong to the EU. The UK is the most Eurosceptic member; news stories concerning Turkey’s efforts to join the EU frequently receive the now tired joke in the UK that they may as well take out place. But whatever misgivings I have about whether the UK deserves the EU (most British Eurosceptics would argue it’s the EU that doesn’t deserve the UK), at times like these I can’t help but feel Turkey would be an even worse member for the EU than the UK is, whether or not their addition were effected through a membership trade (which, for legal reasons, it wouldn’t be in real life).

  2. As we journey to the second decade of the 21st century, this secular bashing will intensify, and not just in the poorer countries but the 1st world will also feel the theists fear.

    Now , more then any other time in history, religious meme’s are being explored rationally and questioned deeply, and  that imposition on the make believe in the main seems to be contributing to a considerable draining away of sheeple support.
    This is not natural wastage or a temporary glitch in numbers it is a veritable cull in members.
    A whole generation is seemingly turning their back on the traditional worship endured by countless predecessors, the next generation of potential theists is evaporating like mist in the morning sun.
    That leakage has been noticed most markedly in the Xtian delusional cults. that shocking danger will not go unchallenged in the delusional religious opposition they are trying to pre-empt the same fate for their own brand of woo.
    Maybe the recent craze for draconian sharia law is a direct result of the fear the rabid experience when they realize that it is not just one aspect of a foreign religion that is being decimated but the whole basis of drooling to the invisible by all that drool to such a premise..
    Fear inspires a knee-jerk, seems the upshot will end in the scenes above.
    A few more confrontations will end in death, and we should be under no illusions on who will actually die!
    Thing is it will spread to other lands, and other cult delusions as the decade progresses. that will be one result of the devastating plummet of popularity amongst the drooling.
    Religion as a business and a government tool of mass control will not sit back and accept their fate.
    If the likes of Romney get their sweaty little paws on power it will be a certainty.
    Expect no redress in the Superior court, that will be loaded with right wing rabid just as soon as…and free speech will be labelled terrorist and anti-american.

    The ‘dominionists’ are not a fairy story…they are waiting and hoping for a result they can use….Romney is that result.
    Once that genii is out…no-one will be able to get it back in the bottle again for many years.

    Turkey is just the tip of a theist iceberg, and a warning of what is coming to us all.

  3. Talking governments not people, I think the main opposition to Turkey becoming a member of the EU is the German Government. The UK government has, as far as I am aware, always made positive noises.

    But the current Turkish government, with its pro-religious programme, will be going backwards in its attempts to become an EU member – maybe they are not serious anyway.

  4. Nice to see so many people taking to the streets to defend secularism but they are going to have a hard time of it because the current Turkish government seems determined to implement theocracy by stealth. Let’s hope Erdogan fails in that objective.

  5. I love Turkey and its people and wish all the best for them. Traditionally Turks have looked at the seething mess of hard-line Islamic countries to their south and east and blessed the wisdom of Attaturk, who took them in a secular, European direction with great success – for example, women had the vote in Turkey long before several European countries. One can only hope that the Turkish people rediscover this heritage. There is no future in Islam, only violence and repression.

  6. Imams  in the military.

    Smart move knowing the history of this country. Soon the military will not be able to act anyway as they would be acting against themselves.

  7. Valhalla, —a bit of a walk on the apocalyptic side (at least with apocalyptic overtones); nevertheless, I really enjoy both your line of thought, and your way of expressing it.

  8. Turkey has an officially secular government, but they are 98% Muslim – with 80% Sunni & 20% Shia.  This does not bode well with several Islamic Theocracies developing in the area.

  9. What does one expect from a government which still denies that the Armenian Genocide took place?

  10. NoKiddingMan – thanks for the good quality links.

    In countries where people have not left their idiotic superstitions
    behind, religion is such an easy and effective tool to use for political gain. Religious
    parties have such an advantage at the moment throughout the Near and
    Middle East. But in Turkey – at least in the West and South – people have
    had the experience of dealing with millions of tourists from Europe and
    now increasingly Russia and the ex Soviet countries. This has shown them
    that godless people do not fear and are not to be feared. The South and
    West is where Turkish secular hopes lie.

  11. I do admit to a very dubious view of the theist agenda.
    I think the panic is setting in both for the Xtian and the Allah fans.
    And I rather sense that both delusions are being ruthlessly exploited by vested interests with an avarice for power above all and a their way or the highway attitude.
    The exploiters blatantly using religion as the shield they cower behind.

    I think that the overwhelming point is that both have a fair share of barking insanity in their dogma, all man invented of course from previous cretins with no knowledge and even less integrity, and both have a core of fundies that ruthlessly exploit moderates in their delusion for their own ends.
    The moderates are well cowed, very rarely raising as much as a mild mannered objection to obviously barking nonsense because they have been schooled since birth that gods word is law…they get a scrap of scripture thrown at them they rarely bother to view it in any meaningful context.
    That is why the rabid get away with ridiculous claims and pontifications.

    Secularism weakens their hold on the cojones of society, that goes some-way to explain both of their shenanigans that seem to be gathering pace in the last few years.
    Xtians with their constant disregard for the establishment cause in their own constitution and the continual claims of disrespect and blasphemy from the bums up kneeling brigade.

    But the rational genii is out of the bottle as it were as well.
    Knowledge and reality are easier to encounter then at any time in the past, the theist has had the advantage snatched away, and the theist is reacting the only way they know, repression and threats.

    It will get a lot worse before it subsides, and the ‘committed’ theist on both sides of the deity version of choice have no wish to relinquish the gains they consider their right.
    And the last thing they want is for secularism to gain passage at their expense. which is what inevitably will happen.
    Secularism in general and atheist in particular frighten both of them, they will approach the fear with the pitch forks and burning brands of hysteria that only the theist can generate.

    I do think desperation and a last hazzah will force their hand sooner rather then later, certainly in the xtian camp, and in fear there will be very little rationality.
    This will be plan B if the election goes the other way.

    I do think there will be a showdown in society sooner rather then later, the question is who will be holding the reigns of government?

    Because a biassed government is more likely to roll back the secular.
    The rhetoric coming from the barking preachers in the USA kindda proves the point, they know that this might well be the last chance saloon for their idiocy and bigotry, and they are more then a little concerned.

  12. I travelled to Turkey when I was a teen, about the same time I turned atheist for other reasons.
    At the time, and probably now, Turks living in countryside are extremely religious (mostly Sunni).

    However, I agree that influx of tourists helps exposure to the Western world.  But, when you are in a Muslim country, you do not want to tell the locals that you are not a believer.  

    I also think Turkey is not the same as many other Islamic countries.

  13. I’ve just stumbled across this article (been away from the site for a few days)…

    Valhalla, you’ve expressed my opinion almost to the letter in your posts, so I won’t repeat what you’ve said – nice one.

    As I’ve posted on here before, it may well come down to an apocalyptic Theist v Atheist war later in this century – with the winners inheriting the Earth… and hopefully the losing Theists being sent to Mars or some other off-world colony…

  14.  Cheers Doc…
    I base my conclusions on history and present shenanigans.
    The history seems to indicate that the xtian religion has never really been threatened before.
    Maybe locally and temporarily in a practising sense…(hence the constant claims of repression and intolerance the theists  chant, because it is a feature in the xtian psyche at a sub-conscience level but so near the surface it is the first gambit they indulge in) but not  the actual  basis, not the central theme.
    Secularism removes the plinth they stand on and atheism removes their moral right to claim fairy story done and dusted!
    In the main xtian religion is a contagion that usurps local deities and ghosties and ghoulies and twists them to fit their version.
    3/4 of the religious ceremonies conducted in the RCC are lifted straight from pagan worship, almost every feast or ‘Holy day’ in Blighty is originally Celtic or earlier pagan, blended with Roman or Greek undercurrents and finally stolen by the xtian religion.
    The flagpole RCC ceremony of transubstantiation, which they claim distinguishes them from the rest is Pagan in origin.
    Incense…even their damned cross symbology  was stolen from the ancient Egyptians.
    In fact the only aspects that is home grown is the utter banality of their sophisticated theology, that is so dim, if not crass subjectivity, it is highly dubious that any proceeding religion would have embarrassed themselves by actually using it to justify.
    They have not one argument that stands up to scrutiny, after 2000 yrs that is quite an accomplishment.
    But that is what you get if you recruit a fan base that is raised on ignorance and fear, you do not require cast iron evidence or argument, a few sentences of gobbly gook is sufficient for most explanations to the brain dead.

    So it is a compendium of ignorance distilled down to xtian religion in all its tatty glory, mainly by incorporating previous indigenous ‘wisdom’ and pretending it is their own, or at least is compatible….ironically they are trying the same tactic with science, but they ain’t getting to far with that.
    It is always the theist, or their lap-dogged apologists,  that poses the claim  that science and religion is compatible. it is always the theist that pretends Genesis is scientifically accurate, and it is always a theist that pretends all that is will be mentioned in either the bible or the Koran!
    I think it is called grasping at insubstantial straws, it makes them pompous and the focus of derision, they have never encountered that before they are very frightened!

    The threat is starting to hit home they see it coming and they are panicking, they see bums on pews diminishing year on year and they see their bigotry openly challenged in the courts and the media…certainly the internet….they see their ministers and pastors and priests are just men with tastes that sicken any rational being, and they also realise popularity will not return to the glory days of the bronze age.
    Benny kiddy fiddler enabler and  kapitano of the good ship magisterium will be sorely disappointed there methinks, and the dominionist faithful are keeping powder dry and membership closely shrouded in darkness because they sense no go at the moment but with a cretin like Romney all bets are off, they are all praying fit ta rapture, they all know it is last chance saloon and the noon train is a comin’ …like a bat outta hell!

    Either way the election goes it is a showdown, the theist cannot ignore the inevitable erosion of their ‘belief’ and the atheist will not back down.
    Been a long time in coming, but come it has!

  15. Indeed – your point about panic can be seen in such articles as these:



    The reason the religious voice seems to be so much louder these days is because religion is like a wounded animal, it’s back against the wall – all it can do is scream and claw in a vain and violent attempt at postponing the inevitable…

    Here’s some interesting figures that show that we appear to be winning the war – but we are currently engaged in just the opening skirmishes of a long, hard struggle that will ebb and flow for many years to come…



  16. Why don’t you guys talk about the conditions of the Kurds living in Turkey? 
    In Turkey, there are over 20 million indigenous Kurds deprived from basic human rights, including the right to speak their mother tongue, to study in their language, to be recognized as a nation, in addition to deprivation from basic administrative and political life; knowing that the Kurds have been living in their land for thousands of years, while the arrival of the Turks does not exceed some eight or nine hundred years, though historical roots is not the point here. This simply exhibits the very fact that today’s Turkey does not enjoy the modern, civilized qualities for a state to be included in the EU.

    However, a further problem surrounds the religious characteristic: The cultural values of the Turkish community, though apparently claiming ‘secularism’, are in fact based on deeply rooted Islamic moralities, a threat that may conflict with human rights maintained by the EU, for reasons known to most of us.

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