Turkish people against sharing personal information with state

Turkish people against sharing personal information with state

An overwhelming majority of Turks have voiced objections to sharing their personal and private information with the state, a survey recently carried out by the Ankara-based MetroPOLL Strategic and Social Research Center has revealed Today`s Zaman reproted.

When asked whether they would like the state to know their personal, private information, 81.4 percent of the survey's respondents replied in the negative, while only 14.8 percent said they would like to share their personal information with the state and 3.8 percent said they did not know.

To a related question on whether they believe the state protects or will protect the personal information of its citizens, 53 percent said they do not while 32.8 percent said they do. The remaining 14.3 percent said they did not know.

Supporters of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) had the most trust in the state's protection of their personal information with 50.3 percent, followed by the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party's (BDP) supporters with 26.8 percent, then Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) supporters with 18 percent and finally Republican People's Party (CHP) supporters with 9.1 percent.

Claims raised this summer that Turkey's National Intelligence Organization (MİT) has been collecting personal data illegally with the cooperation of public institutions, a profiling operation that has justly been likened to "big brother," have raised concerns that Turkey may be heading towards an authoritarian system in which people's personal information is gathered illegally and held without their consent.

Reports appearing in the Taraf daily claimed that MİT signed protocols around a year ago with Turkish Airlines (THY) and the Ministry of Education, among other public institutions, which enabled the agency to profile anyone using these services. MİT denied these allegations at the time.

MetroPOLL's survey, titled "Türkiye'nin Nabzı" (Turkey's Pulse), was carried out in 31 provinces from Oct. 8-21. A total of 1,200 people from various political parties and backgrounds were interviewed as part of the survey. Among other things, one of the main topics of the survey was the content of a democratization package announced by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sept. 30 that aimed to broaden freedoms for various social groups in Turkey.

One of the landmark reforms in the package, partial freedom for the wearing of headscarves by women working in public institutions, received wide support from those surveyed, with 76.1 percent approving the move while 19.9 percent objected.

Among other things, the package removes restrictions on the wearing of Islamic headscarves in most public-sector workplaces. The ban, however, will remain in effect for judges, prosecutors and military personnel.

The strongest support for headscarf freedom in the public sector came from the Felicity Party (SP), AK Party and BDP supporters surveyed, with 100 percent, 90.7 percent and 84.5 percent, respectively.

The reopening of the Halki Greek Orthodox seminary on Heybeliada, a goal long-desired by Turkey's Greek community but which did not make its way into the democratization package, was among the issues MetroPOLL's survey opened to discussion.

When asked whether they would support the reopening of the Heybeliada seminary for educational purposes, 53.7 percent said they would, while 27.6 percent said "No."

The biggest support for the reopening of the seminary came from AK Party and CHP supporters, with 57.8 and 51.8 percent, respectively.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I has repeatedly said that the reopening of the seminary is of vital importance for the survival of the Greek Orthodox clergy. Established in 1844, the Halki Seminary was closed in 1971 under a law that placed religious and military training under state control.

Pollsters also questioned respondents about their support for the granting of official status to cemevis (Alevi places of worship), and again there was support from a majority of the respondents, with 63.1 percent responding in the affirmative while 25.5 percent said they would be against such a move.

The long-awaited demand from Turkey's Alevis did not find expression in the government's democratization package either, which was a disappointment to the Alevi community.

MetroPOLL also asked respondents whether people are subjected to discrimination in Turkey based on their religion, sect or ethnicity. Nearly half of the respondents, 49.8 percent, said "Yes," while 47 percent said "No."

"It is an alarming situation that the perception of discrimination, which is a practice that deeply undermines a feeling of justice, is so widespread," the pollsters said.

A look at the distribution of political party supporters showed that a majority of AK Party supporters, 64.4 percent, do not believe there is discrimination in Turkey, but conversely, 33.3 percent of the party's supporters believe there is. The CHP and BDP supporters are most likely to believe in discrimination in the country, with 73.5 and 69 percent, respectively.

More women, around 53 percent, think there is discrimination in the country when compared to men, 47 percent of whom believe there is discrimination, according to the survey.

The MetroPOLL survey also asked people whether they would support incumbent President Abdullah Gül if he runs in the 2014 presidential elections; 64.7 percent said they would support such a decision, while 26.7 percent replied in the negative. In addition, 59.2 percent said they would vote for Gül if he runs for the presidency in 2014. The strongest support for Gül's candidacy came from AK Party supporters, with 88.4 percent.

Gül has not yet announced whether he will run for the top post again, but there is high expectation that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who co-founded the AK Party with Gül, will run for the post.

To another question, asking whether they are concerned about radical Islamist organizations that use violence, 76.2 percent said they are, while 16.8 percent said they have no worries in that respect.

When asked whether they support the views and actions of Islamist organizations such as al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah and the Taliban, there was strong disapproval among Turks for the views and activities of these organizations. More than 85 percent of respondents said "No," while a small number of respondents, around 6 percent, said they approve of the views and actions of these organizations.

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