Turkish Democracy and the Evolving Interpretation of the Principle of Secularism: The European Court of Human Rights’ Perspective

Rossella Alessandra Bottoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The Turkish principle of secularism (laiklik) has a paramount importance not only in the country’s constitutional system, but also in its external relations. For a long time, inside Turkey it was presented as a pillar of democracy against Islamic fundamentalism; outside, it was perceived as the instrument making the coexistence between Islam and democratic values possible and, as such, as a model for other Muslim countries. This traditional interpretation of secularism, as known, has been increasingly challenged by the AKP-led government, and the consequences of the changes in the understanding and application of the constitutional principle of laiklik are being debated. This paper aims to look into this issue from the perspective of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), by examining a number of decisions characterized by a specific interpretation of the Turkish principle of secularism, and by focusing on the evolution of the ECtHR’s understanding of the relation between laiklik and democracy in Turkey.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-214
Number of pages30
JournalBALKAN STUDIES
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Keywords

  • Corte europea dei diritti dell'uomo
  • ECtHR's case law
  • Laicità
  • Secularism
  • Turchia
  • Turkey

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