Turkey's Constitutional Reforms and the Future of Islamic Democracy




Venue: IAIS Malaysia


Date & Time: Wednesday 29 September 2010 at 10:00am


Forum Panelists:

  1. Professor Dato Muhammad Abu Bakar (Professor of International Relations, University of Malaya)
  2. Professor Mohd Redzuan Othman (Dean, Faculty of Arts and Social Science, University of Malaya) [PowerPoint Presentation (in PDF format) 12.9MB]
  3. Professor Abdul Aziz Bari (Professor of Constitutional Law, International Islamic University, Malaysia)
  4. Dr Saim Kayadibi (Assistant Professor, Kulliyyah of Economics and Management Science, International Islamic University Malaysia) [PowerPoint Presentation (in PDF format) 849KB]

Moderator: Emeritus Professor Datuk Osman Bakar, Deputy CEO, IAIS Malaysia.


The majority of Turkish voters voted on 12 September 2010 in favour of a package of 26 changes to the country’s constitution drafted 30 years ago after a 1980 military coup. Both the United States and the European Union have hailed the reform referendum victory. How do Muslims react to Turkey’s constitutional reforms? How do they see in the light of these reforms the future of Islam, secularism and democracy in Turkey? A panel of four distinguished academics will provide a critical analysis of these constitutional changes and highlight their significance for Turkey and the Muslim world.




On Wednesday 29th September 2010, IAIS convened a public forum on the recent referendum in Turkey of 12th September 2010, when the majority of the Turkish population voted in favour of twenty-six constitutional changes to the existing constitution drafted by the military regime after the 1980 coup. Among other things these amendments make it more difficult for Turkey’s military to mount coups and use extra-legal methods of control, as was all too frequently the case in the past. Another feature of the amendments was to lift immunity from prosecution hitherto enjoyed by military leaders until the present day.


Laicism (state secularism) in Turkey has been enforced as state policy aimed at preventing the increasing trend toward islamisation of society over several decades. Among the most controversial issues was forbidding female students from wearing head coverings in public universities, as well as for Muslim women in government employment and at government functions. These tensions illustrate the ongoing debate on the public role of Islam within Turkish society manifested in the struggle for authority between the AKP party in power and the ‘old guard’ of military leaders and the secularist business class. The constitutional amendments mark a maturing of the Islamising process conducted legally by consensus and open public debate.


The four speakers were: Dr. Saim Kayadibi (UIA), Professor Abdul Aziz Bari, Professor Mohd Redzuan Othman, and Professor Dato’ Muhammad Abu Bakar. Emeritus Professor Dato’ Dr Osman Bakar, Deputy Chairman of IAIS, moderated this well-attended forum with its lively question and answer session.

Read 2674 times