Is Turkey a Muslim country? According to the CIA World Factbook, 99.8% of people in Turkey are Muslim (people who practice the religion Islam). Women who are Muslim normally wear head coverings and men who are Muslim generally wear beards. Of course, people who are less religious might not follow these practices, but many do. However, while I was in Turkey I learned that in public schools and government buildings, women are not allowed to wear head scarves and men are not allowed to wear beards. The government wants to keep religion out of public spaces, but they are doing this by restricting people’s religious practice. This seems sad to me. Shouldn’t people get to choose how they want to dress and practice their religion?
When I walked down the streets in Turkey, I saw people of all shapes and sizes, light skin and dark skin, covered heads and modern dress. Like America, Turkey is a diverse country! Take a peek:
Turkey is a crossroads country between Europe and Asia, so it has a long history for both Christians and Muslims. I saw many mosques throughout my travels, but I also saw churches, from very ancient to more modern:
I also got to go inside a few mosques, some of them very famous:
Overall, I don’t think that Turkey should be defined as a Muslim country, even though many people are Muslim. People are people. If we only see their religion, we miss out on lots of other aspects of who they are. Even so, I loved learning about the things they find sacred, and how Muslims practice their religion. Here’s one of my favorite photos that I took on my last day in Istanbul, which I think shows the contrast between the old and the new, as well as the religious and the secular. As you can see, mosques are only one part of the landscape of Turkey.