The Changing Nature of Turkish Islam in the Public Sphere


  • Derya Akguner Monash University



Turkey, Islam, secularism, identity, civil society, public sphere


The role and prevalence of religion in the public sphere in Turkey has evolved substantially since the formation of the Republic in 1923. These changes have accelerated over the past three decades and changes have become particularly obvious since the AKP came to power in 2002. Turkey formally adopted laïcité in 1937 prohibiting overt signs of piety in public. However, religion was never completely eliminated from the public sphere and remained vitally important to many in Turkish society. In the past decade many factors have refashioned the positioning of Islam in Turkey. These include: the changing nature of the elite; the rapid urbanisation of Turkish society characterised by unprecedented migration from the East; a growing middle class; a robust civil society; and increased ties with its Muslim majority neighbours. As a result, Islam’s position in the public sphere has strengthened along with perceptions and expectations of Islam’s place in Turkish society. This article explores these changes and seeks to explain what is driving them.

Author Biography

  • Derya Akguner, Monash University
    Derya Akguner is the Centre Officer of the Global Terrorism Research Centre, Monash University, Australia. She is also a doctoral candidate at Monash University, Australia, researching about Turkish identity, and secularism, democracy, Islam and Foreign and Domestic Policy changes in Turkey. Derya holds a BA in International Relations, Deakin University, Australia, partly completed at Boğaziçi University, Istanbul - Turkey. She also holds an MA with Honours in International Studies from the University of Sydney, where she wrote her thesis on the EU and Turkey. Derya has extensive experience working in the non-government sector in Turkey, for various organisations like UNHCR, UNDP, UN Security, EU, HRDF, ICMC, IOM, and the Cancer Foundation. Her research interests include Turkish domestic and foreign policies, Turkish society and culture, identity politics, minority studies, ethnic and religious conflict, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean Politics and terrorism.






How to Cite

Akguner, D. (2013). The Changing Nature of Turkish Islam in the Public Sphere. Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, 25(3), 229-253.