Turkey vs Turkey vs Northern Ireland

A considered op-ed by Soner Cagaptay about the secular/non-secular struggle within Turkey (“Turkey versus Turkey”). Cagaptay argues that if the non-secular AKP wins, Turkey “will be less like secular, liberal-democratic Italy and more like authoritarian, semi-secular Jordan”.

I consider myself a happy secularist, but not at the point of enforcing it through authoritarian means. This of course is the liberal democratic paradox. But as I understand the non-secular political forces at work in Turkey (admittedly not very well), there is no appetite for fundamentalist Islam and Shari’ah law replacing its existing judicial code. (I’m still amazed Shari’ah law was recently mooted for England.)

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland can provide an example of what an alternative, non-secular Turkey could look like, with our ethno-nationalist political party structure and inherent conservatism. Perhaps not authoritarian (perhaps what I call a “conservative democracy”), Northern Ireland has a way to go before there’s a viable contest between the secularist and non-secularists.

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