Despotic secularism

“I am now more convinced than ever that there is no secularism, per se, ever associated with democracy, openness, tolerance and other lofty political values, and no religion, per se, ever linked to intolerance, irrationality, violence, fanaticism and all that is deficient and disturbing. Neither has a monopoly over virtue or evil. Secularism may be allied to repression and despotism; religion to democratisation and openness. In Turkey today, the generals, secularism’s self-appointed ‘absolute guardians’, are the ones threatening to suspend the democratic process and overthrow the elected government and the Islamist-rooted AKP government the one defending democracy and pluralism, and appealing to the nation to uphold them.”

Soumaya Ghannoushi at Comment is Free, 7 May 2007

See also Lenin’s Tomb, 2 May 2007 and Austrolabe, 5 May 2007

Meanwhile, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown takes a different view of despotic secularism: “Our universities do nothing as Muslim women are compelled or pulled into wearing head and body covers. We do not defend our secular state. They do in Turkey, though some with unwarranted viciousness, which is self-defeating. I hope they can save their country’s political pillars being lent on with such strength by Islamicists. They still have a chance and can avoid, I hope, the charms of the Iranian Islamic idyll. We must, too.”

Independent, 7 May 2007