27.09.2017
Untersch
Zehra Pala at the Sapio awards ceremony in June 2017.
© IBKA / Evelin Frerk

According to the president of the Atheism Association, Zehra Pala, Turkey has been in the process of Islamization. Pala, who lost her job for being an atheist, explains in an inteview for the “Humanistic Press Service” what it means to be an atheist in a country where the public display of piety is seen as a proof of loyalty to the government.

In early summer the International League of Non-religious and Atheists gave the "Sapio" award to the Atheism Association.  The award acknowledges the Association’s commitment to enlightenment, tolerance and freedom of conscience.

Atheism Association was founded in Spring 2014 as a reaction to lawsuits against the prominent Turkish atheists and to hate speeches used by politicians and clergy against non-religious people. The association defends the rights of atheists, theists, agnostics, and non-believers who have been exposed to public stigmatization and discrimination in politics and in daily life. Atheism Association helps the victims of discrimination not only by providing legal assistance but also by offering moral support as it is reflected in the Association’s motto “You are not alone anymore” („Artık yalnız değilsin“).

With regard to the latest political developments in Turkey, characterized by an increasing loss of legal security and societal polarization, especially moral support is urgently needed. The latest example for the difficult position of Atheism Association was when in spring 2017 Turkish public authorities closed down their webpage again.