Accepted paper:

Religion as legal culture: secularism and eeligious minorities in EU and Turkey

Author:

Ceren Ozgul (CUNY)

Paper short abstract:

One of the most controversial aspects of Turkey's candidacy to European Union has been the status of religious minorities in this 'Muslim' country. This paper aims to problematize secularist policies both in Turkey and in Europe as a source of inequality in the status of religious minorities.

Paper long abstract:

One of the most controversial aspects of Turkey's candidacy to European Union has been the status of religious minorities in this 'Muslim' country. Europe's accession requirements on the improvement of the rights of the non-religious minorities have been regarded by some a breach of Turkey's sovereignty over her subjects. In Turkey, this has been perceived as a continuation of the "imperialist" mentality of the "Great Powers of Europe" dating back to 19th Century and partition of the Ottoman Empire. From a European perspective, Turkey as a 'Muslim' country has to be supervised in the treatment of her (especially Christian) religious minorities. Among other things, by this perception of Turkey's (mis)treatment of her religious minorities on the basis of Islam, rather than understanding it as a nation-state's sovereignty claim over its subjects, Europe establishes 'religion' -rather than secularism- as the basis of inequality in rights. Trying to go beyond this dichotomous understanding of 'European imperialism' vs. 'religion as the cultural basis of rights' this paper aims to problematize secularist policies both in Turkey and in Europe as the main source of inequality in the status of religious minorities.

panel W055
Critical perspectives on the persistence of 'culture talk' in the making of Europe