Shariʿa in the Secular State: Evolving Perceptions of Law and Religion in Turkey
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Many polls, including my own, indicate that a notable percentage of Turks want "Shariʿa"--a term of art, the meaning of which I attempt to unpack and clarify in this study--to be enforced by the state. However, my evidence shows that Turkish people seldom consider what implementing Shariʿa might mean in terms of its effect on civil law. In other words, there is often a disconnect between supporting an adoption of Shariʿa and supporting the regulation of everyday behavior through civil codes. It is clear from research conducted by myself and others that even religious people do not want Turkey to become more like Iran or Saudi Arabia. In fact, many of the religious people I interviewed believe that the robust protection of religious freedom enhances their own religious experience by making it more meaningful and more authentic. This attitude, held by many in present-day Turkey, suggests that religious belief and individual choice are not only valued but may also enhance each other. Based on my research, I believe that forcing Turkish law to conform to classical Islamic legal norms will likely provoke far greater public opposition, even from many people of faith, than did the response evoked in June 2013 during the Gezi Protests.