A senior Turkish minister’s call to turn Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia from a museum back into a mosque is stoking a dispute between Turkey’s Islamist-rooted government and the country’s Orthodox Christian community.
Whether or not students of the opposite sex should live together is the latest controversy to envelop Turkish Prime Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. But this time there’s a twist to the story: the prime minister is facing criticism from various corners, including from elements among his own conservative, pro-Islamic base.
The recent conviction of Turkish virtuoso pianist Fazil Say on charges of blasphemy is sending a troubling message to secular Turks that the Turkish government values religious expression only if it conforms to authorities’ views on religion.
In Turkey, it is not just the cost and questionable necessity of massive government development projects that are giving citizens pause. It is also what critics charge is the undemocratic way the city of Istanbul is being transformed without local input.
At first glance, the Sultan Beach Hotel near the Turkish resort town of Bodrum looks like any other seaside resort with its swimming pool, sun chairs and people sipping cool drinks. But a closer look reveals that there are no women to be seen poolside and not a drop of alcohol.
The Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which concludes August 18, can be a time of heightened friction in Istanbul, when the beliefs of the pious clash with the lifestyle preferences of secular-minded Turks. This year, Ramadan has been marked by a secularist outcry over recent efforts to restrict the consumption of alcohol.
As Islam takes on a more visible public profile in Turkey, academia is becoming a battleground over the theory of evolution. Scholars who espouse creationist ideas are becoming more assertive in challenging Darwinism.
In its 1,700-year-old history, Hagia Sophia in the northwestern town of Iznik has witnessed many turning points. In 787, as a Byzantine church, it housed the Second Council of Nicaea, which restored the veneration of icons to Christianity.