Monday 30 April 2007

A different opinion on Turkish secularism

Matt Yglesias has a slightly different take on supporting secularism in Turkey (via Andrew Sullivan). He argues that Western liberals should support the moderate Islamic politics of the AKP:

If America takes the attitude that only rigid, Attaturk-style secularism is an acceptable form of political organization, then this is precisely the sort of thing that drives the view that the United States is engaging in the global persecution of Muslims and Islam.

Andrew Sullivan agrees, despite his sympathy for Turkish secularists and their worries about encroaching fundamentalism, arguing that 'finding a way to allow religious expression in the public square more flexibly than Attaturk is not a capitulation to fundamentalism. It may be the best way to head it off.'

Well yes, by all means give credit to religious parties when they espouse democracy and pluralism, but there's a slight danger here of western liberals endorsing a form of politics they would never countenance in their own countries, and thus coming over as just a little bit patronising. I still think Turkish secularists who are battling to keep religion and politics separate are the natural allies of liberals and leftists in the west and deserve our full support.

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