The arguments made in this paper should make a modest contribution to a somewhat intensified effort to understand this particular topic. Since the 1920s, the peculiar essence of interactions between the application of the secular principles of the republic and the accent of political Islam has been on the agenda of Turkey’s political discourse. Freedom of religion comprises freedom of belief, conscience and worship; that is, the right to practice one’s religion unhindered. A constitutional counterpart of religious freedom is a duty for the state to exercise religious and ideological neutrality. In Turkey, undoubtedly, this religious neutrality remains a scarce commodity. The only religious freedom which is truly guaranteed is that of those who conform to the Sunni variant of Islam supported by the state.1
The Armenian Community and the AK Party: Finding Trust under the Crescent
This article aims to explore one of the critical and relatively understudied dimensions of Turkish politics: the complex characteristics of interactions between the Armenian community (mainly Gregorian Orthodox Christians) and the incumbent government of the Justice and Development Party. Two interrelated questions are raised below: Why did the relationship between the AK Party and the Armenian community become an important topic to discuss? What repercussions did the assassination of Hrant Dink in 2007 have on relations between the Turkish government and the Armenian community? The answers to these questions can help us better understand why a majority party with Islamic roots produced more reliable bonds for the Christian minority than previous governments with their more secular backgrounds and political agendas. I argue that the Armenian community in Turkey is in a constant quest for a secure socio-political climate where it can safely preserve its cultural, ethnic and religious identity. Hence, the political agenda of the AK Party essentially matched the Armenian community’s aspirations for large-scale reforms, which paved the way for a period of vigilant collaboration that remained in effect until the assassination of Hrant Din
The successful completion of the Turkish-Armenian rapprochement process will enhance the profile of the Armenian community and the latter will substantially benefit from that progression.
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