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Are Atheist Tolerated In Turkey?

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Hello there, I'm a half turk half american (turk on my moms side) teen whos going to be moving to Turkey (Istanbul to be exact) pretty soon with my mom and I'm wondering, as an atheist will I encounter problems in Turkey? I don't try to shove my beliefs down peoples throats, but I'm wondering if I'm going to encounter that a lot in Turkey, and that I should just keep it to myself or something?

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Welcome to our forum Greenmountainboy. :)I agree with KKW that generally, it should not present any problems provided you keep quiet about it, although, if you have relatives over here the male members might well expect you to go to a mosque with them, if not on Fridays then certainly at Bayrams. It will be up to you how you handle that depending on how religious your family is and how much you don't want to upset them as it could be very upsetting for devout people. According to the Koran people of other religions are acceptable but atheists aren't.

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yes i think i am tolerated for saying i believe in god but not sure about which religion yet...(family tell me what will happen when i die..if i dont accept Islam as my religion before hand..seeing as there is something one should say before dying if given the chance..bit like last rights i guess) but i think if i didnt believe in god at all or religion i wouldnt even be with my husband or it would have caused issues further down the line...as for the family i think it would become an issue & god was automatically mentioned at our wedding ceremony despite the fact i presumed this would not be so as its a state affair/ceremony. Religion/god is on most peoples lips here & i hear people say his name about 10 times a day...i would find it very hard to be openly atheist here myself if i was just from feeling fraustration at the ammount of value/weight people put on the notion of things being 'gods plan' including when accidents that could have been avoided happen...

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Thanks for the welcome guys.

Well my moms a muslim, and she wasn't a conservative one or anything, she married my dad whos not a muslim (he was a christian, hes since passed away) and I think thats actually forbidden to conservative muslims. Now though she plays the conservative one in my presence ever since she found out I was an atheist, she even wears the headscarf thing which I can tell makes her uncomfortable (shes trying to portray how nice and righteous muslim women are, I guess). She's also all mad I have a girlfriend. My relatives from what I can tell (I don't know them well) are pretty religious too. From what I know, Turkey is a secular state but people have told me the population isn't so much, that people are deeply religious and such. Maybe I should just find a way to stay behind.

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Hi GreenMountainBoy, welcome to Turkey Central. From what your second post it sounds to me as though you will encounter some pressure to go to the mosque with your male family members but there are a couple of more important points you might not have thought about.

1. The army. If you have Turkish citizenship you will be expected to do your national service in the army.

2. Education and job prospects. If you have not finished your education yet you would be well advised to finish it in the U.

S. If you do not have Turkish citizenship and/or do not speak Turkish fluently you will have trouble getting a job.

Without knowing your exact situation I can't give you more information than that but it would definitely be worth your while to investigate these things before you land in Turkey.

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Well, I guess I'll just have to tell them no. I haven't been to a mosque since I was five years old, I don't live around any mosque in fact. 1. Oh, there's national service there? Well I'm pretty sure I'm not a turkish citizen, I wasn't born there.2. Well, I'm still in high school (senior). My moms been completely wacky recently, ever since my dad died and I had to move in with her, mainly because she found out I was an atheist (we weren't in much contact over the years). Now she wants to move to Turkey, I admit, she's acting really weird.

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Oh, there's national service there? Well I'm pretty sure I'm not a turkish citizen, I wasn't born there.

I would check this out with the Turkish Embassy over there if I were you, we've had quite a few surprised people who thought they weren't eligible on here. Not being born in Turkey doesn't necessarily mean that you don't have a right to Turkish citizenship and therefore a duty to do national service. You definitely don't want any nasty surprises.
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I can see that you are in a difficult situation. If you don't move to Turkey with your mom, what are your options? Have you got family where you are who you could live with and would help you financially and enable you to finish your education?

If you do come to Turkey what would you do? Can you speak Turkish? Without Turkish nationality working options are slight and with nationality, as Cukur says you would be eligible for military service once you reach 20 unless you were at a university when it can be deferred.

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I would check this out with the Turkish Embassy over there if I were you, we've had quite a few surprised people who thought they weren't eligible on here. Not being born in Turkey doesn't necessarily mean that you don't have a right to Turkish citizenship and therefore a duty to do national service. You definitely don't want any nasty surprises.

Oh, is Turkey one of those countries where you inherit citizenship from parents? And the national service is like those european countries where you have to serve a few years in the military right? Because I'm new to all this and it's kind of confusing me.

I can see that you are in a difficult situation. If you don't move to Turkey with your mom, what are your options? Have you got family where you are who you could live with and would help you financially and enable you to finish your education?

Well I'd probably be homeless, my dad didn't have an extended family really, he ran away from his parents when he was in his teens. My mom however, huge family, all in Turkey.

Can you speak Turkish?

I can speak it, with a heavy american accent. Can't write it though.

Without Turkish nationality working options are slight and with nationality, as Cukur says you would be eligible for military service once you reach 20 unless you were at a university when it can be deferred.

What is Turkish education like?
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i doubt your mum would want you to go to the army (unless she is feeling v nationalistic all of a sudden) as its seems to me she needs/wants you by her side. SO if it does pan out that you will be required to do any service once you enter Turkey (if u do) im sure she will do what she can to give you alternatives...or you can consider ways to reduce/defer this if no other choice is given if you have to come to Turkey in the 1st place that is. I wish you luck with whatever pans out, my mother turned even more religious when my dad died...in fact i would say she cannot do without her faith now and she relies on it very much so as part of her (new) identity..not sure what the old one was mind you..maybe she defered it when marrying an athiest (my father) and then it came back with a vengence as did the need to restructure her identity..im guessing all that of course..

I also think from a turkish womans point of view however previously westernised its clear she would be considering WHO is her support network now? maybe she thinks/see it as Turkey & her roots there...your roots..good luck

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i doubt your mum would want you to go to the army (unless she is feeling v nationalistic all of a sudden)

Oh I doubt it, she's not really a nationalist as just super proud, someone who waves the Turkish flag but isn't going to hurt someone for saying bad about Turkey if that makes any sense.

or you can consider ways to reduce/defer this if no other choice is given if you have to come to Turkey in the 1st place that is. I wish you luck with whatever pans out, my mother turned even more religious when my dad died...in fact i would say she cannot do without her faith now and she relies on it very much so as part of her (new) identity..not sure what the old one was mind you..maybe she defered it when marrying an athiest (my father) and then it came back with a vengence as did the need to restructure her identity..im guessing all that of course..

I also think from a turkish womans point of view however previously westernised its clear she would be considering WHO is her support network now? maybe she thinks/see it as Turkey & her roots there...your roots..good luck

Well her family is very conservative and traditional, they apparently come from a rural setting and settled in Istanbul only 30 years ago. My mom was far more liberal, ended up marrying my dad and moving to the US. Now though she's all wacky and conservative, doing things she never did before. They did keep in contact though, apparently even betrothing me (yeah theyre really conservative) but thankfully they've never been around to carry that out. Anyway this is turning into a life story and I don't want to bore you guys with that. I'm glad you're helping a new comer like me out :D
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Perhaps you could persuade your mom to stay in the States until you have at least finished your education as I think it would better than trying to finish it here. There may be an option then of paying a large sum of money (can't remember how much )so you would only have to do 6 months military service. Most worthwhile jobs ask for papers to show that military service has been completed.

In the meantime you should browse this and other forum to try to learn as much about Turkey and its people and ways. You can also read English versions of some of the Turkish newspapers like Zaman and Hurriyet.

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Probably I sound very harsh now, but I cannot help myself to ask that doesn't anyone else find it weird that half Turkish doesn't know anything about Turkey?

Sorry Fen but no, I don't find it at all weird, he would have been having plenty to do learning all the things you do whilst growing up.

Actually I think it's rather like the way most people only start wanting to find out about their ancestry once they are past 40 years old and all the grandparents etc who they could have asked about their history are dead.

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Perhaps you could persuade your mom to stay in the States until you have at least finished your education as I think it would better than trying to finish it here. There may be an option then of paying a large sum of money (can't remember how much )so you would only have to do 6 months military service. Most worthwhile jobs ask for papers to show that military service has been completed.

I'll try for sure, but she seems really intent on having me in that environment. I think she thinks I'll be a good little turkish boy if I'm around my family and such. That and apparently my family really wants to see me, at least that's what I picked up from their phone calls to my mom. I guess she hasn't told them I'm an Atheist, and I certainly will first chance I get.
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Sorry Fen but no, I don't find it at all weird, he would have been having plenty to do learning all the things you do whilst growing up.

Actually I think it's rather like the way most people only start wanting to find out about their ancestry once they are past 40 years old and all the grandparents etc who they could have asked about their history are dead.

That's very interesting point of view. Maybe this is also cultural issue, because all partly foreign kids I know here in Finland, have always been very interested in their ancestry, even though they would have spent most of their life with "local parent". At least they want to know basic things and they are not even old enough to search information by themselves. Still they are asking and wanting to learn. Also their non-foreign parents really want them to know where they are coming from and what is the country like. That's why I find it very strange.
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