Turkish President Gul highlights rights of the faithless
Secularity is the most important condition for the protection of societal peace, President Abdullah Gul stated, highlighting the vitality for the state to keep equal distance from followers of all faiths, as well as the faithless, the Hurriyet Daily News reported.
"In this context, the state's keeping equal distance on the issue of the use of freedom of religion and conscience and its prevention of pressures that may be put on different life styles is one of the indispensable requirements of democracy, which is a system of rights and freedoms," Gul said Feb. 5 in a written message delivered on the 77th anniversary of recognition of secularity as a constitutional principle of the Republic of Turkey.
"In this regard, secularity foresees the state's being impartial in the face of all religions and sects, faith groups and the faithless. No doubt, such understanding makes it possible for all beliefs and faiths to live together with their own differences; in tolerance and dialogue."
Gul also voiced pleasure that "Problems that have been subject to debate for many years are now being resolved through social contracts," as he put the emphasis on the contribution of fundamental reforms made in the recent years in strengthening Turkey's place among contemporary democracies.
While Gul argued the people of Turkey have been aware of the preciousness of what the Republic and democracy have brought into their lives, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, delivering a separate message on the same occasion, recalled that the Republic of Turkey is described in the Constitution as a democratic, secular and social state governed by the rule of law.
"These fundamental principles should not be interpreted in a disintegrating, alienating and excluding way. On the contrary, they should be interpreted in a unifying and integrating way. In our near history, wrong practices, particularly concerning the principle of secularity, led to polarization and tension in our society," Erdogan said, however, adding democratic reforms led by his government would eventually expand the freedoms and strengthen the feeling of social belonging for the people of Turkey.