The Turkish model of laïcité is unique in that the state continues to direct religious affairs: the thousands of Muslim clerics who serve in mosques are educated in state-sponsored institutions of higher learning. In the last three decades, however, this peculiar Turkish model has become destabilized, and the sociological firewalls that the Turkish republic tried to erect between state and religion have turned out not to be as thick as the Kemalist revolutionaries imagined. The ensuing difficulties are nicely suggested by a question recently posed by Jürgen Habermas: “How should we see ourselves as members of a post-secular society and what must we reciprocally expect from one another in order to ensure that in firmly entrenched nation states, social relations remain civil despite the growth of a plurality of cultures and religious world views?” Habermas asks this question with an eye to the conflict between European societies and their Muslim residents and citizens. In Turkey, where the majority of the population is Muslim but where a modern constitutional understanding of citizenship and civil rights is institutionalized, the question requires a nuanced response. I will try to respond by reexamining the “headscarf ban” and the legislative struggles surrounding it.
more from Dissent here.