Turkey has experienced an ongoing political struggle between secularists, urban moderates and rural Islamists vying for government control. The country has been officially secular since 1924, but 97 percent of the population is Muslim. Questions about the role of religion in society dominate public discourse. A parliamentary commission is at work revising the national constitution, which many believe will support enhanced human rights, including religious freedom. Nonetheless, the Turkish government maintains absolute control over all aspects of religion in the public sphere. Turkey is among the countries most affected by the civil war in Syria. By mid-October 2012, the number of Syrian refugees hosted by Turkey numbered around 100,000. Following a cross-border mortar attack from Syria that killed five Turkish citizens, the Turkish parliament authorized the use of military force against Syria.
Despite government claims and a constitutional guarantee of religious freedom, the Turkish government denies full legal recognition to religious minorities, including Christians. Non-Muslims are denied the right to train clergy, offer religious education and own and maintain places of worship. Conversion is not illegal, but converts have been charged with "insulting Turkishness." Christians frequently experience discrimination, slander, personal attacks and attacks against churches. The Turkish media sometimes portray Christians as foreign intelligence agents intent on undermining the Turkish state.