Saturday, 29. October
City Museum of Ljubljana, 16.00 – 18.00

Etyen Mahçupyan, Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation, Turkey: »EU: Between Democratization and the Threat of Secularism«

Etyen Mahçupyan received his Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Boğaziçi University, Istanbul, Turkey; his first MA in Business Administration from Boğaziçi University and his second MA in Political Science from Ankara University, Turkey. He is the author of thirteen books on Turkish history and politics. He previously wrote columns for Radikal, Yenibinyıl and Zaman newspapers; prepared weekly discussion programs for Samanyolu TV, Kanal 24 and TRT 2, and was the Editor in Chief of the Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos (January 2007 – June 2010).

Currently, he is the Advisor/Editor for Agos, columnist for Zaman and Today’s Zaman newspapers and Program Advisor of the Democratization Program at the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV), Istanbul.

EU: Between Democratization and the Threat of Secularization

Europeans assume that democracy is under the threat of Islamization. When you look at it closer, this assumption is based on the perception that the culturally alien ones are a threat. The main question is “why these people are a threat”? Is this perception caused by the culturally alien ones themselves or is it a product of the cultural/ideological features of the host societies?

European perception of democracy is shaped around a homogenous society. There is place for different opinions, in the public sphere as well as the private one; but this is not the case regarding cultural differences. The public sphere is expected to be homogenous. Today “foreigners” living in these countries underline their communal and cultural differences in the public sphere as well as the private one. This is a problem for Westerners to which they cannot find a solution within the framework of modernism and secularism which is a pervasive ideology within the society. Secularism implies a “common lifestyle” in the public sphere. Such an understanding of secularism has difficulties in understanding cultural diversity within liberal/modern understanding of democracy and has difficulties with living together with the ones who do not coincide with its definition of “acceptable” ones. Therefore, European secularism and modernism produce and reproduce its own “other”.