A call to European left: Defend secularism!

Here is how it goes: There is a problem. The problem has causes as well as effects. You can and should talk about the causes and the effects. But please do not ignore that there is a problem.

And here, more concretely.

Take any of the followings: Charlie Hebdo attacks (France), Mohammed’s caricature crisis (Denmark), Islamic State (Syria, Iraq, Kurdistan), Boko Haram (Nigeria, Niger and Chad), Iranian government, Al Qaida, Al Nusra front (Syria), Saudi Arabian oligarchy, Hamas (Palestine), United Arab Emirates, Turkish government, Muslim brothers (Egypt), Sudan’s Islamic rule, National Liberation Army / Free Libyan Army (Libya).

isis in istanbul university

Istanbul university, 2014. ISIS militants attacking leftists.

If you think these are all exceptional, isolated incidents that have nothing in common, please go back to sleep.

If you think we have a problem, we can move on.

Many European leftists are infected by a tragically cool analysis-obsession, which focuses only on causes and effects, and never on the problem.

Yes, discriminatory and racist policies are causes of radical reactionary movements inside Europe. Yes, imperialist policies are causes of radical reactionary movements all around the world. Yes, lack of a meaningful life in austerity-ruled neoliberal world is a cause of Europeans subscribing to radical reactionary movements.

So yes, causes exists and we all know them.

And yes, these Islamist groups and actions will be used by extreme right as well as “regular” right to increase discriminatory policies. Yes, immigration policy will be further restricted using these incidents as an excuse. Yes, racist and nazi groups will rally and make attacks to minority communities.

So yes, this problem in front of us will cause other, perhaps more dangerous, problems.


Maraş massacre, 1978. At least 150 people murdered, more than 200 houses destroyed.

But you know why racist and/or nationalist policies have been gaining support since decades? Because they address the problem !

They admit there is a problem, and they propose a solution to the society.

And what is the solution of the left?

Seriously, tomorrow we give you all the political power. Yes, to you, we’ll give all political power directly to you. Let us further assume that your “contextualized” analyses have been super-fruitful, so you eliminate all the causes overnight. Now what? You think the problem will just disappear?

We must name the problem. We must stand against the problem. And we must propose a solution. There is no other way out. European left cannot continue ignoring the problem itself.


Rojava, 2014. Hundreds of thousands Yazidis fleeing from Islamic State.

And yes, you guessed it right: The problem is called Islam. Better said, the problem is that Islam has a huge influence on the social sphere.

tayyip democratic

Tayyip Erdoğan, 1990s. Stating that democracy is a tram, from which one hops off once one gets to one’s stop.

Islamism is a heterogeneous social movement. It has its ideological background, its political vision, its leaders and its strategy. And, whether we like it or not, their objective is called “Islamic rule”. Get on with it.

And in fact, we happen to have a solution to this since centuries. It’s called secularism !

Pretty simple, actually: Religious affairs should be taken out of the social sphere. Earthly issues must be decided upon in a secular way. Period.

So why are we talking about whether this or that Islamism is “extreme”? What if it is not “extreme”? Why are you asking the opinions of imams and religious leaders? Why are they experts on human rights? Why are so many Europeans all of a sudden become a policemen (“Je Suis Ahmed”) simply because he was a Muslim and was protecting Charlie Hebdo’s office? What makes anyone think that he is the real Muslim? And what if he were not a Muslim? Why are talking about his religion? Wasn’t secularism the idea that one’s religious beliefs do not interfere in one’s social life? Why is Ahmed becoming a Muslim hero and not a secular hero? And for Zeus’ sake, why are we discussing “real” Islam? Why are we discussing theology?

We invite you, we implore you, and we challenge you: Defend secularism unconditionally.


Turan Dursun, 1990. Journalist and author, murdered because of his atheist views.

We want a world where human rights, morality, laws, rules and the social structure is not based on an arbitrary interpretation of a particular religious catechism.

And you know what? This saves you a lot of trouble at once. Because this is how one fights against Islamophobia too ! (People and/or institutions should not behave to people based on their religion.) This is how one fights against extreme right too ! (They defend “Christian values” against immigrants, remember?) And in fact, this is how one fights a range of imperialist policies too ! Why are imperialist powers supporting, arming and training anti-secularist movements in all Middle East and North Africa? Why are imperialist powers financing and collaborating with anti-secularist political parties? You name it.

So, once again:

We invite you, we implore you, and we challenge you: Defend secularism unconditionally, and defend it militantly.

Out for Beyond

January 2015

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