In Between Democracy and Secularism: The Case of Turkish Civil Society
Since 2011, the Arab uprisings, signaling a new wave of political mobilization, have restored belief in the potential for civil society to make democratic openings. Nevertheless, the academic literature up to the present has attributed the enduring authoritarianism in the Middle East region to the weakness or dominantly Islamist nature of civil society and promoted the development of secular platforms. This article argues that the discussion about civil society is misplaced, and the democratic potential of civil society is not related to its being Islamic or secular, but rather to its attachment to the state. For this purpose, it examines the emergence of a secularist civil societal current in Turkey with special focus on one of its major manifestations, the Republic Rallies in 2007. © 2013 Copyright Editors of Middle East Critique.