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Between Islam and Kemalism: a comparative study of republican, liberal and political liberal models of secularism in Turkey

Muderrisoglu, M.; (2011) Between Islam and Kemalism: a comparative study of republican, liberal and political liberal models of secularism in Turkey. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

Secularism has recently become a topic of deep disagreement in Turkey. There are two main camps in the debate: Kemalist/secularists who defend a rigidly non-religious public sphere as the site of national self-expression; and Sunni believers who seek to redefine 'official secularism' in favour of religious liberty. This thesis attempts to construct two rival normative models of secularism from the republican and liberal traditions, and by delineating the boundaries of reasonable disagreement explore which model runs the best chance of being affirmed by both secular and religious citizens in Turkey. I argue that a third model that synthisises these two, John Rawls' political liberalism, provides the basis for an understanding of secularism that is best equipped to generate agreement between Kemalist and Islamist doctrines. I begin by analysing how political unity is achieved by civic religion in republican 'common ground' secularism, by religious neutrality in liberal 'independent ethic' secularism, and by an interplay between comprehensive and independent reasons in political liberal Rawlsian secularism. Then I provide a systematic survey of the affinities of Kemalist and Islamist conceptions with these normative models. This is accomplished by showing how the Kemalist conception of secularism combines republican and liberal approaches by a dual-commitment to the state-promotion of 'secularised national Islam' and religious neutrality in education and law. Finally, in order to emphasise the normative sources inherent to the Islamist conception of secularism, I explore the Orthodox-Sunni understanding of justice, the Hanafi school of jurisprudence, the Ottoman religious policy, and the reformist-popular Islamic discourse found in the works of Said Nursi and Fethullah Gulen.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Between Islam and Kemalism: a comparative study of republican, liberal and political liberal models of secularism in Turkey
Language:English
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Political Science

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