Original article was taken from Turkish Christians blog and translated from Turkish into English.
There are many Christian and non-Muslim communities living in Turkey. Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks, Jews, Buddhists and even recently Bahai’ies. The number of Turkish Christians is also increasing.
So How Christian people live in Turkey? Which have rights do they have?
Turkey is a secular and democratic country. Turkey is governed by laws under the supervision of the constitutional provisions of Atatürk’s principles and reforms. Definition of democracy in Turkey is “Democracy is a form of government in which all members or citizens have an equal right to shape their organization or policy. In other words, it is not a form of government where the majority rule the minority. Nobody’s right is superior to another’s right. In our Turkish constitution, all freedoms are given without discrimination.
Article 24 of Turkish Constitution states ”Everyone has the freedom of conscience, religious belief and conviction”.
When we look at the Turkish history, we can see that not all Turks are Christians. Karaman Turks are the best example of this. Unfortunately, this tribe had to leave their homeland during the population exchange. The Gagauz Turks are still living as a Christian Turks freely.
A person does not necessarily have to be a Muslim to be a Turk. Because again according to Turkish constitution, the definition of being Turkish is given as follows;
Article 66 of Turkish Constitution states ”Everyone bound to the Turkish State through the bond of citizenship is a Turk”.
According to this article, a Turkish citizen can be of any religion, even an atheist. Religion is a person’s spiritual identity, not a civic identity.
One can change his religious view. He can leave his family’s religion and convert to another religion. This cannot do anything to his citizenship. He still carries his Turkish identity.