IN SEARCH OF AN APPROPRIATE MODEL OF STATE-RELIGION RELATIONS FOR POST-SOVIET CENTRAL ASIA: LESSONS FROM THE RECENT EVOLUTION OF SECULARISM IN TURKEY

Galym ZHUSSIPBEK


Galym Zhussipbek, Associate Professor, Department of International Relations, Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences, Suleyman Demirel University (Almaty, Kazakhstan)


ABSTRACT

Secularism may take different shapes and forms in different contexts, from aggressively hostile toward religion to accepting and standing for the public visibility of religion. The latter model, which is depicted as passive secularism, can be qualified as a human rights-oriented and democracy-friendly model. Secularism in Turkey is undergoing fundamental transformation from assertive to passive, and the process is still going on. The continuing evolution of the Turkish secularism model cannot be understood properly without taking into account the peculiarities of the internally-driven and gradual evolutionary transformation of the Turkish elites, social forces, and society, including the Özal and AKP factors, which have been crucial in liberalizing political, economic, and sociocultural life in Turkey. In this respect, recent Turkish experience constitutes a striking example for post-Soviet Central Asia. On the whole, passive secularism would be a better choice for the Central Asian countries in building a tolerant, stable, and viable society.

Keywords: Passive secularism, assertive secularism, public sphere, post-Soviet Central Asia, Muslim politics.

Introduction

After the collapse of the Soviet system, which was inherently anti-religious, religion turned into a significant component of identity for the citizens of the post-Soviet counties, especially in Central Asia. Consequently, the role played by Islam in the personal, as well as social life of Central Asians, regardless of their ethnicity and nationality, has increased considerably and


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