- Constitutionalizing secularism, alternative secularisms or liberal-democratic constitutionalism? A critical reading of some Turkish, ECtHR and Indian Supreme Court cases on ‘secularism’
- Utrecht Law Review
- Volume | Issue number
- 6 | 3
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA)
In recent debates on the constitutional status of 'secularism' we can discern three positions. The first tries to overcome the absence of 'secularism' in most liberal-democratic constitutions by developing a more robust theory of constitutional secularism. The second develops theories of 'alternative secularisms'. The third, defended in this article, argues that we should drop secularism as a 'cacophonous' concept from our constitutional and legal language and replace it by liberal-democratic constitutionalism. I develop an analytical taxonomy of twelve different meanings of 'secularism' based on a comparative study of Turkish and Indian Supreme Court cases on secularism, and demonstrate that they are incompatible with each other and with the hard core of liberal-democratic constitutions. Next, I criticize the respective rulings in the Turkish and Indian context. Particularly in 'militant democracies', the appeal to a principle of 'secularism' turns out to be inimical to the liberal and to the democratic 'constitutional essentials'. I end with some normative recommendations on the role of constitutional review and judicial activism.
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