Author(s): ?brahim ERDAL
Tanzimat Edict designated a significant stage in the Ottoman modernization process, and a new start was realized in the social, political and legal life of Ottoman. The focal point of this radical transformation, which was initiated by Mustafa Re?itPa?a, was Europe. With the development of the notion of citizenship, the most important solution in non-muslim minorities’ having equal political and legal rights in the Ottoman social structure was thought to apply equal treatment to all citizens without making any religious description. Therefore, the nationalist movements, which began with the Tanzimat, in the Ottoman Empire having multireligious social structure and a legal system based on religious law ended with the foundation of the Republic of Turkey, the final stage of foundation of secular nation states. Westernization which gained impetus during the Tanzimat Era and continued in the Republican Era and social transformation towards secularism in parallel with the westernization process has brought some difficulties. Secularism was regarded as an indispensable part of modernization but it encountered with reactions when it was put into effect by the administrations without making its philosophical foundations established in the society. During the reign of one-party rule, these reactions was repelled without making any concession but this position began to alleviate with the transition to multi-party regime and even the meaning understood from secularism began to change. Demands from the opposition parties for religious education in the frame of the right for education under the guarantee of the constitution were described under the clause secularism and a new interpretation was made on secularism by using this clause. Secularism continued to take place in the philosophy that constituted the basis of the state. However, new interpretations and practices after 1950 proved that the strict understanding of the one-party administration was changing. In this article, firstly, the preparation of the first constitution as a part of Turkish modernization will be discussed. Then the constitutional arrangements and secularism perceptions in the programs of the political parties from the first political party to 1950 will be evaluated.