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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tom's Experience

...This issue of terminology and classification of the other is problematic in Turkey. In the first place, the term secularist is often applied to students such as the Sabanci student who was undoubtedly a secularist, however the implications are that firstly, she is not religious – which is neither the aim of a secular system nor the necessary result of it – rather it is a way of seeing the interaction between the state and religion. Given the weight attached to this classification, secularist can be a poisonous term for the most pious and is extremely divisive. The implications of the word secular are best understood when considering the complementary terms such as Muslim or Islamist. Islamist is a similarly volatile term in Turkish politics and is often misapplied. I would speculate that the majority of those who are labeled Islamists are in fact ardent supporters of a secular government however want to seem some basic concessions that allow freedom of religion, not freedom from religion as is the current Kemalist model of secularism. The lack of more specific terms in common discourse on Turkish politics thus leads to a polarization of opinion and enables the mislabeling of the other, for lack of a better alternative...

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