Date: 15 Dec 2011

Everybody Wants Secularism—But Which One? Contesting Definitions of Secularism in Contemporary Turkey

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This paper discusses the varied perceptions of secularism both in its general meaning and its specific implementation in Turkey—the first Muslim country that has the principle of secularism in its constitution. Initially giving the various understandings of the concept of secularism in Western academia, this paper contrasts those views with the implementation of Turkish secularism—laiklik—specifically in the light of the 2008 case of closure against the conservative ruling party by the staunchly secularist Chief Prosecutor. A close reading of the indictment and the ruling party’s defense will be done in order to highlight the differences between each part’s perceptions of secularism.