The number of people in Turkey who define themselves as religious has decreased, while the number of people who do not believe in God has increased over the past decade, according to the results of a survey conducted by the Konda research and polling company, euronews reported on Thursday.
The social change report by Konda covers the period between 2008 and 2018 and includes comparisons between 2008 and 2018 in many areas.
While 1 percent of people described themselves as atheists in 2008, it rose to 3 percent in 2018. Two percent of Turks characterized themselves as “unbelievers,” up from 1 percent in the same period.
The results of the survey came as a surprise to many given the fact that Turkey has been governed by the Islamic-leaning Justice and Development Party (AKP) since 2002. The party’s leader and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has on many occasions said his government’s goal is to raise pious generations.
According to the Konda survey, people who define themselves as “pious” fell to 51 percent from 55 percent of the society, while the percentage of people who say they are “extremely religious” fell to 10 percent from 13 percent between 2008 and 2018. However, there has been a slight increase in the segment of society that says they are “believers,” increasing from 31 percent to 34 percent.
The survey also showed that 53 percent of women wear the Islamic headscarf, an increase from the previous 52 percent, while people who fast during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan fell to 65 percent from 77 percent of the total.
The AKP pledged to remove the ban on the wearing of headscarves in all areas when it came to power in 2002 as civil servants and students were prohibited from wearing headscarves. Now, there is complete headscarf freedom in the country.
The survey also showed there has been a fall in the percentage of people who define themselves as “modern,” from 32 to 29 percent, while people who define themselves as “religious-conservative” dropped to 25 percent from 31 percent of the population. However, Turks who call themselves “traditionally conservative” rose to 45 percent from 37 percent.
There has also been a decline in the level of happiness among Turks. While 57 percent of Turks said they were “happy” in 2008, this figure fell to 52 percent in 2018. Sixty-five percent of people are married, down from 71 percent in the same period.
Although university graduates increased to 16 percent from 9 percent of Turks in the past decade, there has been a dramatic decline in the number of people reading newspapers and watching news programs on TV.
In 2008 61 percent of people regularly read newspapers, while 98 percent watched TV news programs. Now, these figures stand at 26 percent and 84 percent, respectively.
Dozens of critical newspapers and TV stations have been closed down in Turkey in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016 on the grounds that they had links to terrorist organizations. The AKP government has been extensively criticized for silencing the critical media outlets in the country and creating a media that is strictly controlled by it.
According to the report, most Turks prefer to get news from social media, with social media users rising to 72 percent from 38 percent of the population in the past decade.