Going back to the days of the Alexander the Great, Turkey (then called Asia Minor) has always been at the crossroads between secular Europe and the more traditional Middle East. The founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, worked hard to secularize it after being defeated in World War I. The reforms he introduced included changing their writing to the Latin alphabet from Arabic script, granting rights to women, and providing education to the masses. Just like in the US however, these struggles between the old and the new can remain after many reforms are enacted.
Colbert gives a good summary. Secularists in Turkey see Ataturk as their Lincoln.