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Individual freedoms exist at the core of Muslim theology

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At present, the perspectives and lifestyles of Muslims in Turkey are rather diverse. I am not simply talking about the religious spectrum of those who agree with one another and those who do not. The spectrum I am talking about is that of submissive and liberal approaches to the religion-state relationship.

Paying attention to the use of the terms secular and laic can be useful when understanding the color and shape of this spectrum. There is a broad use of the term secular in many sociological contexts. The term is usually used by religious individuals to refer to language and lifestyles. It may or may not reflect existing animosities and tolerances, but in every case, the term is used at a societal level.

Laicism, meaning the exclusion of clerical control, is always used to describe political systems. Even more important than the religion-state relationship, the term laical defines the relationship between religious authorities and political authorities. There is yet another difference in the use of these terms; anti-secularism is pronounced openly, but anti-laicism is only whispered behind closed doors.

Laicism is an essential framework of the Turkish constitution. The principle of laicism has existed in the constitution since the early days of the Republic. Additionally, the concept played a significant role throughout Islamic history.

This discussion of secular semantics is currently relevant because of a recent development involving the Chief Imam of the Ayasofya Mosque, Mehmet Boynukalın. He has demanded that the principle of laicism be removed from Turkey’s........

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