Why do you even debate secularism?

08 Jun 2011

Turkish politicians and some fake intellectuals have been dividing society into “the seculars” and “the conservatives”, when the modern world went through this debate hundreds of years ago.

Anon I is the Editor in Chief of TurkeyEmergency. This website is about the decay of progression in a country of more than 60 million people.

Public discourse in Turkey has become to detached from the global zeitgeist that who media institutions hire as intellectuals are acting like their ancestors in the Dark Ages. The world is elevating away from dogmas and religions at a personal level and has long abandoned religion as an influence in matters of government. The Age of Enlightenment was over 300 years ago now. But in today’s Republic of Turkey, “laicists” or “secularists” are labels slapped on rational people every day by those who are supposed to defend the country’s secular constitution.

By clicking here you will see results from Google Turkey for the term “laik kesim” (opens in new window), which means “the seculars” or “the secular fraction”, with the opposite being “muhafazakar kesim”, meaning “the conservative fraction”. Most of the results from that Google search will yield you quotations from people deemed worthy of making headlines when they open their mouths. The term in question, when used, instantly sections society into those who want religious rule and those who have the very outrageous idea of governance through reason and allowing religiosity to be a personal and not a state matter. Religious, AKP brown-nose newspapers such as Taraf and Zaman regularly use such divisive language. A fake intellect has achieved its aim of bringing secularism into question and have it examined and questioned as if it was a debatable idea.

The fact is, secularism is like the notion of free speech – it is out of the question to have a society without it. In socially developed countries this discussion does not take place. If a politician in Sweden came out and told the public: “I don’t think the state and the church should be separated and religious leaders should make decisions for everyone”, they’d be the laughing stock of the country.

In Turkey, a top minister does this regularly. Bülent Arınç recently said that secularism is not necessary for democracy. Arınç is the hungry dog of the AKP. He’s being shown the bone and his saliva has been dripping uncontrollably since 2002. He wants Sharia rule more than anyone else and cracks way too easily when pressured. He’s the weakest link in the government. What he will never understand is that democracy is a system of governance where each citizen has a vote to choose between different propositions, ideas and approaches to issues of life. A religious state already has its decisions made by books that fell from the clouds almost 2000 years ago. It’s an easy system to rule. Just sit back and tell people to read the book.

Democracy, with all its faults, doesn’t allow for a moment of static. Within democracy, repulsive ideas like racism, slavery and sexism have been largely banished or made into crimes. These could well have existed within a democratic society, but the zeitgeist evolves and grows with knowledge and communication. Society has come to learn that these ideas are wrong and irrational. Religion, by nature, is incapable of maturing or changing. This is the obscene nature of some religions today, that have morphed in their struggles to have a place in a changing world. But the unhealthy oppression of sexual freedom, the promoted superiority of one sex over the other and the militant attitude to other rival beliefs are just a few reasons why religion has passed its sell by date.

It’s all so familiar. When atheists are publicly taking religion head on, they receive just a few different motions that defend religion. It’s a redundant debate and a rational observer always deems the believer as a loser. Fanatics say that most dictators such as Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin were atheists and that it would be impossible for religious rulers to commit crimes against humanity. But they forget that the bloodiest wars were and still are being fought for religious reasons. In Turkey, the recent phenomena of attacking secularism has been based on the claim that military coups were the result of secularist thought. This laughable thought is like demonising brown haired people because Hitler and Stalin had brown hair.

And anyway, the truth couldn’t be farther away. The coup of 1980 by Kenan Evren, responsible for the execution of 50 people and the torture of hundreds, paved the way for Islamists, not secularists or Kemalists. With the fear of godless communism and the hand of the USA, Islam has been growling into faces of Turks ever since. The 1980s were Turkey’s Dark Years. It’s in this decade that Islam grew out of control and threatened the Turkish state. The conservative Turgut Özal gave sects all they wanted to wield their force on the public. Fethullah Gülen finally found the playground he was dreaming of. Turkish society went backwards. Devastatingly.

It doesn’t come as a surprise. “Divide and conquer” has been the one and only method employed by old and modern imperialists, dictators and hardline capitalists too. “Us vs them”, with “them” also under your control. Like Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, who regularly refers to “eses ricos” (those rich), installing absolute fear to a section of his own population that are too afraid to stop at traffic lights in case of armed robbery or kidnapping.

False promises to groups and polarisations. Turkey’s prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is unashamed of tagging and labelling the Alevi, atheists, artists, communists and his betrayed Kurds. Middle class Venezuelans are afraid to stop at traffic lights and brights among Turks are afraid to say they’re not religious. Even anonymously like me.

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