The Politics of Secularism in International Relations

By Elizabeth Shakman Hurd | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FIVE
The European Union and Turkey

SOCIAL AND RELIGIOUS factors have played a significant role in European opposition to Turkish accession to the European Union (EU). To identify the presence and political effects of the cultural and political sensibilities, collective dispositions, and discourses identified in earlier chapters as laicism and Judeo-Christian secularism, this chapter draws on policy statements, pundit commentaries, international agreements, opinion polls, court decisions, conference proceedings, and popular and academic accounts of Turkish and European politics. Using a similar methodology but a different set of sources, the next chapter examines the influence of these two forms of secularism upon U.S.-Iranian relations.

Most observers depict the cultural and religious dimensions of the European debate over Turkish accession as a disagreement between those who see Europe as a Christian club and those open to a more religiously pluralistic European identity. However, polls suggest that cultural and religiously based doubts about Turkish accession resonate with a much larger proportion of the European population than those who publicly defend the idea of an exclusivist Christian Europe. Both secularists and Christian exclusivists (or traditionalists) express hesitations about Turkish membership:

Opposition to Turkish accession is coming from secular as well as religious quarters
in Europe. Some nonreligious Europeans worry that bringing a large Muslim coun-
try into the EU could endanger the Continent's tradition of gender equality and
tolerance of alternative lifestyles, for instance. For traditionalists, Turkish accession
threatens the very idea of Europe as a Christian civilization.1

Prevailing explanations of European resistance to Turkish accession that rely upon the assumption that opposition is based exclusively upon support for a Christian Europe miss a crucial part of the story concerning the cultural and religious basis of this resistance. Cultural and religious opposition to Turkey's accession is not only about defending the idea of a Christian Europe, though this is a significant consideration. The prospect of Turkish accession has stirred up a more fundamental controversy about European identity and the politics of religion within Europe itself. Turkey has turned toward a different trajectory of secularism that conforms to neither Kemalism (a Turkish version of laicism described in chapter 4) nor the two prevailing trajectories of secularism described in this book: laicism and Judeo-Christian secularism. This form

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The Politics of Secularism in International Relations
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Chapter One - Introduction 1
  • Chapter Two - Varieties of Secularism 23
  • Chapter Three - Secularism and Islam 46
  • Chapter Four - Contested Secularisms in Turkey and Iran 65
  • Chapter Five - The European Union and Turkey 84
  • Chapter Six - The United States and Iran 102
  • Chapter Seven - Political Islam 116
  • Chapter Eight - Religious Resurgence 134
  • Chapter Nine - Conclusion 147
  • Notes 155
  • Select Bibliography 213
  • Index 237
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