a bus refuses to stop to pray and revives the debate on secularism

By refusing to give in to a passenger who demanded a stop while praying, a long-distance bus driver revived the debate on secularism in Turkey despite himself.

The coach was making one of the longest trips through Turkey this Saturday, between Van, near the Iranian border (east) and Izmir, on the Aegean coast (west), more than 24 hours of travel, according to the lawyer of the Oz company. Ercis was joined on Tuesday by AFP. “The company is at the center of a controversy over secularism. They target us. But we are respectful of all beliefs.“says the lawyer, Tuncay Keserci.

It all started, according to him, with a message on Twitter from a passenger complaining that he had not been able to say his prayers during his trip because the company had refused to stop. In response, the company recalled, in a press release shared by his lawyer, that Turkey is a secular country according to the Constitution.

None of the rights defined by the Constitution can be used to violate the democratic and secular conceptionof the Republic, he explained. “It is not possible (…) to ignore the rights of other passengers who do not pray and who want to arrive at their destination on time so that a passenger can pray“, is justified again.

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The company’s response has gone viral in Turkey, a country with a Muslim majority but with a secular tradition, despite the erosion of this principle by the Islamic-conservative government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Many Turkish netizens have praised Oz Ercis for his defense of secularism and his “courage“, while others condemn her and assure that they will not travel with her again. Islam, however, states that travelers can organize their time and prayer times during their travels.

We are victims of a lynching campaign, as if we are preventing people from prayingregrets the lawyer, Me Keserci, who specifies that the passenger in question was able to pray later, when the bus stopped at a rest area. The company’s leaders are very pious and the Van region is known to be predominantly conservative, the lawyer insists.

Our reminder of secularism does not mean that we are not believers. Secularism also protects Muslims“, he argues. President Erdogan, who has restored the authorization to wear the Islamic headscarf in universities and the administration, has promised to enshrine the principle in the constitution before the June 2023 elections.

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