Secularism As A Project Of Free And Equal Citizenship

Secularism As A Project Of Free And Equal Citizenship

Those who believe in a particular religion may, if they wish, follow the rules and guidance of the clerical authority of that religion; but they cannot oblige anyone else to do the same, those rules cannot go beyond helping them regulate their own private lives. The political sphere where citizenship resides is a different and independent matter. Likewise, political authority cannot interfere with the belief or disbelief of citizens, or the respect that they may or may not have for religious authorities, as long as they do not violate anyone else’s human rights. One of the effects of neoliberal globalization was the large scale migration from Muslim countries to Europe in the post-1980 period. The growth of the Muslim population not only reversed the tendency of European societies to secularize, it also put the previously settled issue of secularism back on the agenda, this time in an inextricable way.

  • These tensions allow the state to act as sovereign representative, guardian, and nurturer of the social body, but this starts to collapse when the state fails to protect the social body from a suicide attack.
  • This was a response to post-9/11 developments, when Europeans increasingly invoked secularism and freedom from religious influence in an expanding campaign to ban Muslim customs like veiling and circumcision.
  • Reaching a significant size, these immigrant communities that used to be known by their national origins began to be recognized by their religious identities, partly as a result of their own demands and partly as a reaction of the host societies to the large number of culturally unassimilated newcomers.

Unlike the earlier and conservative opponents of religious freedom, progressive critics are committed to cultural pluralism and equality. But it is nevertheless crucial to understand what progressive and theocratic opposition to religious liberty have in common, and how some of their ideas and assumptions came to converge. The book begins by sketching the emergence of religion as a modern historical object in the first two chapters. Following this, Asad discusses two elements of medieval Christianity that are no longer generally accepted by modern religion, those being the productive role of physical pain and the virtue of self-abasement. While he is not arguing for these practices, he is encouraging readers to think critically about how and why modernism and secular morality position these as archaic “uncivilized” conditions. Asad then addresses aspects of “asymmetry” between western and non-western histories, the largest of these being the fact that Western history is considered the “norm” in that non-Westerners feel the need to study Western history, but this does not go both ways. These “asymmetrical desires and indifferences”, Asad argues, have historically constructed opposition between West and non-West.

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The clothing issue in Europe, symbolized by the headscarf but including the veil, burkini, etc., is still unresolved and continues to bolster the Islamist theses on Islamophobia and victimization. In Turkey, however, the AKP government in a sense resolved the headscarf problem, but only at the expense of many new problems. The AKP was initially self-described as “conservative democratic” and therefore seen as a concrete case of the “moderate Islam” option promoted especially after 9/11.

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The difference between them, rather, is that a monothetic definition sorts instances with a Yes/No mechanism and is therefore digital, and a polythetic definition produces gradations and is therefore analog. It follows that a monothetic definition treats a set of instances that all possess the one defining property asequally religion, whereas a polythetic definition produces a gray area for instances that are more prototypical or less so. This makes a monothetic definition superior for cases in which one seeks a Yes/No answer. Even if an open polythetic approach accurately describes how a concept operates, therefore, one might, for purposes of focus or clarity, prefer to work with a closed polythetic account that limits the properties set, or even with a monothetic approach that limits the properties set to one.

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