Unlike its other Islamic neighbors, Turkey abolished Sharia law and became a secular nation in the 1920s. As a result, women in Turkey had rights and freedoms not enjoyed by women in any other predominantly Islamic country (Arat 870). The first president of the newly transformed country was named Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who wore western-style clothing. Though Turkey was secular, it was not democratic, as one party ruled (Arat 870). By the 1950s things began to change again as Turkey transitioned to a multi-party system and the Islamists began to campaign more loudly and publicly for the right to practice their faith in public (Arat 871).
Turkey has attempted to move toward a two party, more European type of system, or as one article terms
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November 2002 and its general elections were a pivotal time for Turkey. Turkish women in particular were affected by the changes as Islamist and more secular women coexisting in Turkey were suddenly entering an era of being pitted against each other. After decades of secular government, Islam was starting to become more prevalent in nearly all aspects of daily life. As the three journal articles that are focused on in this essay all indicate, tension had been bubbling between the old guard secularist, or Kemalist groups (named after the first president of newly secularized Turkey in the 1920s), that had relegated Islam to the private sphere, and a move toward a more religiously tolerant, or depending on one’s point view, religiously controlled atmosphere where Islam became more prominent than it had previously been for decades (Turam 479).
DIVERSE VIEWPOINTS ON ISLAM
AND GENDER IN TURKISH POLITICS
In “Representation Problems of Social Democracy in Turkey” Simten Coşar and Aylin Özman studied how the general elections held on November 3, 2002 changed party politics in Turkey by leading to a two-party system (Coşar & Özman 234). It also brought the liberal-conservative Justice and Development Party (AKP) overwhelmingly into power, signaling a shift to a more pro-Islamic stance Turkish