TravelTill

Religions of Turkey



Turkey is a secular state with no official state religion; the Turkish Constitution provides for freedom of religion and conscience. Islam is the dominant religion of Turkey, it exceeds 99% if secular people of Muslim background are included. Research firms suggest the actual Muslim figure is around 98% or 97%.

There are about 120,000 people of different Christian denominations, including an estimated 80,000 Oriental Orthodox, 35,000 Roman Catholics, 5,000 Greek Orthodox and smaller numbers of Protestants. Today there are 236 churches open for worship in Turkey. The Eastern Orthodox Church has been headquartered in Istanbul since the 4th century. Christians represent less than 0.2% of Turkey's population, according to the CIA World Factbook.

There are about 26,000 people who are Jewish, the vast majority of whom are Sephardi.

The Bahá'í Faith in Turkey has roots in Bahá'u'lláh's, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, being exiled to Constantinople, current-day Istanbul, by the Ottoman authorities. Bahá'ís cannot register with the government officially but there are probably 10 to 20 thousand Bahá'ís, and around a hundred Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assemblies in Turkey.

Academics suggest the Alevi population may be from 15 to 20 million. According to Aksiyon magazine, the number of Shiite Twelvers (excluding Alevis) is 3 million (4.2%), and they live in Istanbul, Iğdır, Kars, Ankara, İzmir, Manisa, Çorum, Muğla, Ağrı and Aydın. There are also some Sufi practitioners. The highest Islamic religious authority is the Presidency of Religious Affairs (Turkish: Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı), it interprets the Hanafi school of law, and is responsible for regulating the operation of the country's 80,000 registered mosques and employing local and provincial imams. The role of religion has been a controversial debate over the years since the formation of Islamist parties, especially in education. Turkey was founded upon a strict
previous12next