Using the experience of Islamist parties in Turkey as a comparative example, this article explores whether political parties with deeply held religious ideologies can integrate themselves into liberal democracies, paying particular attention to the nature and role of legal secularism (the mechanism states use to insulate themselves from religious influence). This is an extension of the query whether the rise of illiberal political groups eventually leads to the end of liberal society. These queries engage the assumption that illiberal religious ideology is incapable of tolerating dissent or pluralism. This article examines Turkish constitutional secularism as well as the “Islamist” Justice and Development Party (“AKP”) and its electoral victories in 2002 and 2007 in order to explain the AKP’s ability to shift away from dogmatic ideology to conservative, yet democratic, positions.
Russell Powell, The Study of Secularism and Religion in the Constitution and Contemporary Politics Of Turkey: The Rise Of Interdisciplinarity and the Decline of Methodology?, 7 ST. THOMAS L. J. 714 (2010).