Atheism growing in Turkey 1

President Erdogan’s refusal to see Trump’s envoy, John Bolton, when he visited Turkey recently for the very purpose of talks with him, adds to a history of Turkey behaving more like an enemy than a NATO ally of America. It would seem sensible, indeed necessary, for NATO to expel Turkey from the alliance.

But what if Turkey were to change when Erdogan goes? Is the country showing signs of changing?

It seems from this report by Deutsche Welle that Erdogan’s policy of returning his country to fundamentalist Islam – undoing Ataturk’s secularization – is itself causing many Turks to turn against Islam, even prompting a significant number to become atheist!

If the report is true, it is a good sign that Turkey could return to the Western model Ataturk embraced.

According to a recent survey by the pollster Konda, a growing number of Turks identify as atheists.

Konda reports that the number of nonbelievers tripled in the past 10 years. It also found that the share of Turks who say they adhere to Islam dropped from 55 percent to 51 percent.

“There is religious coercion in Turkey,” said 36-year-old computer scientist Ahmet Balyemez, who has been an atheist for over 10 years. “People ask themselves: Is this the true Islam? When we look at the politics of our decision-makers, we can see they are trying to emulate the first era of Islam. So, what we are seeing right now is primordial Islam.”

Balyemez said he grew up in a very religious family. “Fasting and praying were the most normal things for me,” he said. But then, at some point, he decided to become an atheist. …

Diyanet, Turkey’s official directorate of religious affairs, declared in 2014 that more than 99 percent of the population identifies as Muslim. When Konda’s recent survey with evidence to the contrary was published, heated public debate ensued.

The theologian Cemil Kilic believes that both figures are correct. Though 99 percent of Turks are Muslim, he said, many only practice the faith in a cultural and sociological sense.

“The majority of Muslims in Turkey are like the Umayyads, who ruled in the seventh century,” Kilic said. … “The Umayyads regarded daily prayer as a form of showing deference towards the sultan, the state and the powers that be.”  [In Turkey] the relationship between church and state endures. “Regular prayers have become a way to signal obedience toward the political leadership … and prayers in mosques increasingly reflect the political worldview of those in power.” …

For nearly 16 years under Recep Tayyip Erdogan, first as prime minister and since 2014 as president, Turkish officials have increasingly used Islam to justify their politics — possibly increasing the skepticism surrounding faith in government.

“People reject the predominant interpretation of Islam, the sects, religious communities, the directorate of religious affairs and those in power,” Kilic said. “They do not want this kind of religion and this official form of piousness.” This, he said, could help explain why so many Turks now identify as atheists.

Selin Ozkohen, who heads Ateizm Dernegi, Turkey’s main association for atheists, said Erdogan’s desire to produce a generation of devout Muslims had backfired in many ways.

Ozkohen cited the unsuccessful coup in 2016, in which followers of the preacher and religious scholar Fethullah Gulen were accused of rising up against Erdogan … The coup, she said, was a clash between opposing religious groups — which was followed by a major crackdown by Erdogan. … “Those who reflect rationally on this, turn to atheism. Today, people are more courageous and willing to openly say they are atheists.”

If atheism can grow in Turkey, is it too optimistic to suggest that it could grow in other Islamic states?

Well … yes.

Posted under Islam, Turkey by Jillian Becker on Thursday, January 10, 2019

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Science and the Jinn 1

Each section of the Koran, except the first, has a title. One section is called The Jinn. 

This is from an enlightening article by David P. Goldman (aka Spengler) at PJ Media:

The leading ideologue of Turkish Islamism, Fethullah Gulen … presides over a business empire worth tens of billions of dollars and a system of Islamist schools that stretches from Central Asia to charter schools in the United States. The Gulen organization took control of Turkey by infiltrating its security services in a patient march through the institutions over the past two decades. Gulen’s pan-Turkic mysticism views Turkey as the center of a new caliphate uniting the Muslim world. He preaches a “Turkish renaissance” with a modern spin “to ensure that religion and science go together and that science penetrates not only individual lives, but also social life.”

 What Gulen means by science is of an entirely different order than the Western understanding. This “imam from rural Anatolia,” as his website describes him, inhabits the magical world of jinns and sorcery. Science is just a powerful form of magic of which Turks should avail themselves to enhance their power, as he writes in his 2005 book The Essentials of the Islamic Faith:

“Jinn are conscious beings charged with divine obligations. Recent discoveries in biology make it clear that God created beings particular to each realm. They were created before Adam and Eve, and were responsible for cultivating and improving the world. Although God superseded them with us, he did not exempt them from religious obligations.  

As nothing is difficult for God almighty, he has provided human beings, angels and jinns with the strength appropriate for their functions and duties. As he uses angels to supervise the movements of celestial bodies, he allows to humans to rule the Earth, dominate matter, build civilizations and produce technology. 

Power and strength are not limited to the physical world, nor are they proportional to bodily size … Our eyes can travel long distances in an instant. Our imagination can transcend time and space all at once … winds can uproot trees and demolish large buildings. A young, thin plant shoot can split rocks and reach the sunlight. The power of energy, whose existence is known through its effect, is apparent to everybody. All of this shows that something’s power is not proportional to its physical size; rather the immaterial world dominates the physical world, and immaterial entities are far more powerful than material ones.” 

He goes on to warn about sorcery and the danger of spells; he allows that it is meritorious to break spells (for evil witches are everywhere casting spells), although a good Muslim should not make a profession of this, for then he might be mistaken for a sorcerer himself.

The notion that “wind” and “energy” are “immaterial” forces exudes the magical world view of an Anatolian peasant; the miracles of technology are the secret actions of jinn, just as the planetary movements are the actions of angels. When Gulen talks about the union of religion and science, what he means quite concretely is that the magical view of jinns in the Koran aids the believer in enlisting these “immaterial” forces to enhance the power of Islam. Science for Gulen simply means the management of jinn. By our standards he is mad as a march hare.

Gulen is a shaman, a relic of pre-history preserved in the cultural amber of eastern Anatolia.

The present Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Erdogan, is a follower of Fethullah Gulen. And with him President Obama feels as much at ease as he feels irritated and uncomfortable with Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Last year Obama [said] … that the “friendships and the bonds of trust” that he forged with Erdogan (whom he named among five foreign leaders) is “precisely, or is a big part of, what has allowed us to execute effective diplomacy.”

“Bonds of trust” with an Islamic leader who –

 … is given to lurid, sometimes bloodthirsty outbursts. During a February 2008 visit to Germany, Turkey’s most important European trading partner, Erdogan scandalized his hosts when he told an audience of 20,000 Turks that assimilation into German culture was “a crime against humanity.”

Germany, after all, knows a thing or two about crimes against humanity. German opinion was outraged, and Turkey’s chances for membership in the European Community — a pillar of Turkish diplomacy for a generation — fell to negligible. Erdogan ignored the uproar, and told the Turkish Parliament upon his return to Ankara, “I repeat… assimilation is a crime against humanity . . . . We can think differently from (Chancellor Angela) Merkel about this, but that is my opinion.”

The German attitude towards its Turkish minority has swung from multicultural outreach to pessimism about their future in German society. In October 2010, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told a gathering of her political party that Germany’s attempt to create a multicultural society has “utterly failed.”

A few days ago Erdogan declared that Zionism too is “a crime against humanity”.

What could the president’s friend have meant by that? Erdogan said exactly what he believes. The Turkish leader is a holdover from the enchanted world of rural Anatolia, in which Jewish conspiracies swirl in the night air along with jinn and witches. That is not an exaggeration, but an objective report … No-one should be surprised. Lunatics have run better countries than Turkey in living memory.

But, Goldman sensibly observes –

 American presidents would do well to find a better class of friends.