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From Secularism to Laïcité and Analyzing Turkish Authoritarian Laiklik

Turkish secularism called laiklik which derived from the French laïc term, was transferred from Frances’ laïcité in the late Ottoman period via the Young Turks to achieve western modernization. The implementation of the laik institutions in Turkey, contrary to the secularism in the United States, and laïcité in France, did not originate from its own historical, social, and political circumstances. To create a new form of the western secular model onto the framework of the new Republic of Turkey, laiklik has articulated as a political Kemalist doctrine to protect itself and, especially translates itself to the totalitarian context. This article argues that Turkey’s own secular model laiklik was not aimed at the separation of religion and state but first to control it and finally to try to minimize it from the public sphere.

From Secularism to La cit and Analyzing Turkish Authoritarian Laiklik

Secularism or Laïcité

The idea of the secular or laïc state is not present or apparent in Muslim societies. It was an idea that emerged in Europe to obstruct the control of religion, that is to say, the hegemony of the Church over the social and political spheres. Since then, secularism has played a major role in the development of western societies. Eventually, all the social developments in the 19th and at the beginning of the 20th centuries, such as concepts of freedom of thought, nationalism, rationalism, humanism, materialism and industrial development arose in modern European societies after the implementation of secular principles.1 As a term, “secular” or “secularism/secularization,” has a variety of meanings and comes from the Latin saeculum, meaning “this age” and “this world.” In the Middle Ages, the term referred to a “priest who worked out in the world of local parishes” and later during the Reformation, the term secular indicated a “distancing from the sacred, the eternal, and the otherworldly.”2 Laïcité, a French term, comes from the ancient Greek, laos, common people, which then passed to French through the Latin laïcus, “the one who didn’t enter in religious order.”3 Finally, the term laiklik in Turkish comes from the French laïc, which is perceived as the separation of religious and political affairs by the state’s constitution.

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