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The Establishment of Kemalist Secularism in Turkey

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Three mechanisms (exit, sincere voice and self-subversion) mediated the establishment of Turkish secularism. Exit means purging opponents out of decision-making. Sincere voice is public expression of dissent against the secularist reforms. Self-subversion refers to concealment of underlying opposition to Kemalist project in the face of perceived pressures. Exit ensured the absence of the opposition leaders in the Assembly, allowing the Kemalists to intimidate the opposing deputies to self-subvert themselves, clogging sincere voice, to such a degree that all the secularizing reforms were unanimously approved without a single vote of dissent in the parliament. Thus, the Kemalist secularism was established as a result of the dominance of exit and self-subversion over sincere voice. The very same interplay of these three mechanisms later led to the rise of a secular public sphere in Turkey during the early republican era (1923-1938). The article ends with discussing the social ramifications of this intense secularization in contemporary Turkey.


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