Democracy and Religion in Turkey Government Essay

October 14, 2020 by Essay Writer


A total of seventeen Arab countries with an estimated population of 250 million inhabitants are governed by a form of a system that attempts to incorporate both elements of democracy and religion.

This system of governance used by these countries have only appeared recently with the emergence of the democracy concept which is a new ideology; traditionally all Arab countries have always been governed by religion do,ctrines that are very much like what Khaled refers as natural or caliphate political systems in his “Islam and Challenge of Democracy” article.

In an attempt to embrace a modern ,ideology of democracy Muslim nations adopted two core elements of the democratic system; the rule of law and limited government which they hoped would achieve the necessary transition towards a democratic government system, but this has failed.

Instead, what the Muslim countries made in selectively choosing to adopt and apply some few elements of a democratic system is a hybrid system that still placed much power in Islam at the expense of democracy. In this paper, I seek to demonstrate why democracy and religion are a mutually exclusive phenomenon that cannot coexist in the same government by analyzing the governance system of Turkey as a case in point.

Features of a Democracy

The concept of democracy is based on the ideology that allows citizens in a country to exercise their free will in choosing their leaders as well as in voicing their opinions. It is for this reason that makes the democratic system rely on electoral institutions that are meant to oversee the process of electing leaders in a national election activity that is meant to be fair and transparent.

It is, therefore, a form of a governance system which gives citizens greater control to the instruments of power and a platform that involves them in running of the government. It is a form of civic governance in which the people directly elect the government leaders to represent their views. The origin of democracy dates back to prehistoric times in Greek where it was first used.

Democratic systems can be divided into two major categories, majority rule, and liberal democracy. Majority rule of democracy is the type that is driven by the decisions of the majority in any one instance. The logic behind this democracy is that people cannot uniformly agree on any one issue, and at the same time, the people must be allowed to choose what they want.

This form of democracy, like the rest uses a voting system which citizens use to express their desires. The other form is liberal democracy which is the most widely used worldwide. This form incorporates other values such as human rights, due process of law, civil societies, and so on. There are other forms of democracies that many other governments use, some not so democratic yet which are passed as free democracies.

Democratic form of governance is built on two important tenets; freedom and equality; this are the hall marks of a democratic system. It is the reason why democracy is very popular especially in the modern world. It has so many activists agitating for democratic processes in every other area including institutions all over the world. Indeed the values of democracy sold by the leaders to the masses are impossible to resist in all its forms.

And if democracy by itself is not enough to be sold as a form of fair, open and just method for governance, then it can come in various other forms tailored to suit the needs that the people may desire as is the case in Turkey which is our focus of analysis or perhaps Iran where democracy is still referred as the system of governance.

The form of governance in Turkey does not incorporate both democracy and religion in governance and is therefore very different from what is found in other mainstream Arab countries. In fact more often than not Turkey is often regarded as a model of a democratic government in the Arab region. Foremost, unlike other Arab countries Turkey has deliberately failed to entrench the religious ideologies on it constitution, a feature that makes it to be regarded as a “secular” society.

This form of governance that has disengaged religion from being central to the democratic system of governance that a country relies on is our first indication that shows us the ideals of democracy cannot be achieved with religion as its twin partner. Turkey’s success in achieving an ideal democratic government is founded on the fact that religion is not incorporated in the country’s constitution.

And that is not even all; Turkey provides room for civil societies that play a crucial role of checking the powers of the government when they are excessive; civil societies are integral to democratic systems all over the world. Finally, Turkey has adopted proactive measures that are very deliberate in ensuring that Islamic does not significantly influence the way of life in all the other aspects of society.

This reasoning is similar to what Muslim jurist had to say about religion in democratic countries “ made by a sovereign monarch is illegitimate because it substitutes human authority for God’s sovereignty”. But because democracy provides the citizens with the instruments of law rather than religion as is the case for Islam, what happens is that these two ideologies become incompatible with each other.

So does religion hamper the democratic systems of governance in Islamic countries? To answer this questions let us relate the unique features that differentiate one type of Arab country that is considered very democratic, in this case Turkey with another typical Arab country that claims to be democratic despite the influence of its religion that greatly limits its democratic system of governance.

In any case if the failure of democracy in all the major Arab countries which are known to be activists of incorporating religion in governance is anything to go by, it would appear that religion and Islam in specific are incompatible with the concepts of democracy.

Not surprisingly the Arab countries that have experienced greatest failures in democratic systems are those that have placed much emphasize on Islamic religion in the running of their States. Iran which can only be described to have a semblance of a democratic system is a typical example that only seems to think that democracy only involve establishment of an electoral institution that is not even fair or just.


The truth about good democratic governments is as simple to fathom as it records on human rights if the majority of Arab countries that still incorporate Islamic in their governance had a functional democratic system we would hope to see an improvement in areas of human rights records.

As I have elaborated on the paper, Islamic and democracy are at far ends of one spectrum and cannot possibly be merged. In my opinion, the attempt to incorporate the concept of democracy in governance by Arab countries without having to relish Islamic is tantamount to hoodwinking the world and their citizens to believe in a democracy that does not exist.

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