Religious accessories bans are not secularism

The Québec Liberals are once again floating the idea of a bill banning the wearing of religious accessories in public spaces. It’s a transparently political ploy, as the idea always has been, but depressingly, a lot of atheists have been hoodwinked into believing that it actually makes some kind of sense. Some even believe that it is necessary in the name of “secularism”. It’s time to put these misconceptions to rest once and for all.

The idea that the government should ban the wearing of religious accessories has been floated particularly in Québec for almost a decade now, and probably even longer. It’s been picked up by some nonbelievers outside of Québec, though not by the general Canadian public. Virtually all secularist, humanist, atheist, and freethought organizations across Canada reject it, and even Québec’s own human rights commission has called it clear setback for human rights and freedoms. Arguably it has only ever been a political gambit, first by the Parti Québécois attempting to secure the xenophobic vote in the 2014 election, and now by the Québec Liberal Party probably attempting to link their opponents’ support for the idea to the alt-right and its wave of intolerance.

The precise form of the ban varies depending on who you ask and when.

[Poster created by the Parti Québécois to illustrate which religious accessories were allowed and which were banned under their proposed Charter of Values. Allowed symbols are a standard Christian cross necklace, a star-and-crescent (Islamic) earring, and a Star of David (Jewish) ring. Disallowed accessories are an enormous Christian cross necklace about half the size of one's chest, a hijab, a turban/dastar, a niqb, and a kippah.]

Québec Charter of Values banned religious accessories poster.

  • In its mildest form, all that is banned is the wearing of visible religious accessories by people who are in positions where they wield the state’s power: judges, for example. That was the recommendation of the Bouchard–Taylor Commission (though Charles Taylor has now disavowed it).

  • Sometimes members of parliament are added as well… though rarely when the idea is brought up by a member of parliament, unsurprisingly.

  • The most common form calls for banning religious accessories from all government employees (whether that includes elected officials is rarely made clear, but presumably they’re included).

  • And more extreme forms – including the current Bill 62 that is being discussed right now in Québec – call for not only banning religious accessories for government employees, but also for anyone who wants to receive any government services.

  • And even that isn’t enough for some; they want general bans of the wearing of certain religious accessories anywhere in public.

All this variation makes criticizing the idea a royal pain in the ass. It’s like criticizing religious believers: You start to criticize the most common form of their belief, only to have them stop you and ridicule you for attacking a straw man, because that doesn’t happen to be the precise formulation they believe. So you try to suss out exactly what it is they do believe, and they dodge and dissemble and never give you a clear definition. Eventually you’re forced to guess based on clues they’ve given and the most common versions of the belief, but if you don’t get it precisely correct they brush you off for attacking a straw man again. Repeat ad nauseum.

Thing is, it doesn’t really matter precisely which variant of the idea you believe. The fundamental basis of the idea – its very core – is plain wrong.

It’s not secularism

The most insidious lie associated with the idea of a religious accessories ban is that it has anything to do with secularism.

This is the lie that the bigots use to add a gloss of respectability to what is, on its face, simple bigotry. This lie has done so much damage to the formerly respectable image of secularism that the term may never recover from the stain. “Secularism” is so dirty now that when the Supreme Court ruled in favour of secularism, they avoided using the term, preferring “neutrality” instead.

The most common form of the lie is that there are “different views” on secularism, and the Québec view is just a product of their unique culture: different, but equal. People who regularly pooh-pooh the “different ways of knowing” argument actually swallow this line, with no sense of the irony. But this is not an issue of different cultural viewpoints. The point of secularism is that it transcends divisions like culture, ethnicity, and belief. Secularism, done properly, works the same for everyone, everywhere, everywhen. So it simply can’t be true that there is a special form of secularism in Québec that differs from secularism everywhere else.

And it isn’t true. And the evidence of that is exactly in the place that Québécois proponents of bans usually say people should look: in Québec’s history and culture. What Québec religious symbols ban proponents are basing their position is laïciténot secularism. That laïcité is often rendered into English as secularism is simply a case of sloppy translation. Because laïcité is decided not secularism, and a look in Québec’s history and culture proves that definitively. Laïcité is secularism plus French (or in this instance, Québec) nationalism, plus anti-clericalism. The support for banning religious symbols comes either from the anti-clericalism or the nationalism; it varies from individual to individual, depending on how much racism and xenophobia is involved.

A truly secular government would be one that:

  • does not allow religious belief or authority to influence its decisions; and
  • neither favours nor hinders any religious belief or practice that doesn’t threaten the safety or freedoms of others.

Both of the above factors are relevant for this issue.

The first is what proponents use to argue for a religious symbols ban, under the tortured “logic” that a passport office clerk wearing a hijab or a bus driver wearing a dastar influences, or at least appears to influence, the decisions of the state. How they can believe this is so I’m not sure; no matter how many times I ask I never get a coherent answer.

A related claim is that the wearing of a religious accessory is, in and of itself, proselytizing. This is also obvious nonsense. In what way is a person wearing a hijab sitting on the bus seat next to you minding their own business either trying to convince you that Islam is “better”, or trying to convert you? It takes an astonishingly egocentric view of the universe to imagine that someone who merely walks past you on the street wearing a dastar is trying to convince you that Sikhism is better.

Believing that someone wearing a religious accessory is pushing their religion requires the same kind of ignorant and bigoted mindset as believing that a gay couple holding hands is pushing a “gay agenda”. Simply wearing a religion’s particular accessory is not “pushing” that religion; it is being that religion. Pushing that religion would be trying to make you wear the accessory… or, ironically, trying to make you not wear some accessory you are wearing that offends their beliefs. Hint, hint.

So individuals freely choosing – as private individuals – to wear a religious accessory does not violate secularism. In a free society, individuals should have the right to do and wear whatever they please, so long as it doesn’t interfere with the safety or freedom of others. Such a simple idea, yet it soars over the heads of veil ban proponents.

There are situations where there is a rational, secular argument for restricting what people can wear. Obviously that includes safety gear, but it also includes uniforms. Whenever there is a reasonable need for people to be able to identify particular people or members of an organization, there is a good argument for a uniform. For example, it is perfectly reasonable to require doctors at a hospital to wear certain regulation clothing – it makes it easy to spot one when you need them in an emergency, and it makes it easier to spot someone who shouldn’t be somewhere (for example, someone sneaking in to do a patient harm, or steal drugs, or whatever). But when a uniform is required, it should be chosen according to reasonable and practical restrictions. When there is no need to restrict what a person wears on their head – in the case of doctors, for example – it would be unjustifiable to ban the wearing of religious headgear. Even when headgear has been included as part of the uniform, such as with police, it is unjustifiable not to have options for people with special requirements. There is no good reason not to consider religious requirements; the mere fact that you happen to dislike religion is not reason enough. So long as the religious requirements can be reasonably accommodated, they should be.

Secularism not only does not require a religious accessories ban, it actually outright forbids it. The second aspect of a secular government is that it “neither favours nor hinders any religious belief or practice that doesn’t threaten the safety or freedoms of others”. The requirement not to hinder religious beliefs or practices unnecessarily is what rules out a religious accessories ban. There is no health or safety argument, and no violation of others’ freedom, in allowing someone to wear the religious accessories their private beliefs require. There is no secular justification for banning it at all.

Many of the proponents of a veil ban completely lack any sense of irony, because they are often the same kind of people who will defend blasphemy with the argument that no one has a right not to be offended. Then they’ll turn right the hell around and argue for a religious symbols ban solely because the symbols are offensive.

The one final argument to consider is that allowing people to wear their religious accessories is “favouring” their religion. That requires a dishonest interpretation of “favours”. Merely allowing something to exist unmolested is not “favouring” it… unless you’re routinely and generally intolerant of letting other things exist; only if you are persecuting other religious beliefs (and nonreligion) would it be “favouring” a religion to not persecute it. Treating all beliefs the same, whether they are religious or not, is not “favouring” any religious belief; if any person has a genuinely, deeply-held reason for wanting to wear a particular accessory – and wearing that accessory does not get in the way of health and safety concerns, or the rights and freedoms of others, or any other rational concern – then their need to wear it should be accommodated.

So the bottom line is there is simply no secular argument in favour of a religious accessories ban:

  • an individual who has chosen to wear a religious accessory is not influencing the decisions of the government merely by doing so;
  • an individual wearing a personally-chosen religious accessory does not give a reasonable person the impression that the government is being influenced by that religious tradition;
  • an individual wearing a personally-chosen religious accessory does not give a reasonable person the impression that the government is promoting that religious tradition;
  • an individual wearing a religious accessory is not necessarily promoting or proselytizing a religion, they are merely exercising their own freedom to believe and practice, which they have a right to;
  • when there are rational arguments for restricting a dress code, the restrictions should be designed in such a way that they allow for common standards and requirements, including common religious requirements – and when an unaccounted-for requirement is discovered, it should be accommodated as much as reasonably possible;
  • a secular state cannot favour or hinder any religious or non-religious belief or practice without a good reason;
  • it is not favouring a practice when you don’t prevent it from happening, unless you are already preventing other, similar practices;

This isn’t rocket science. There is a very simple to check whether an idea is actually a secular idea: Just ask whether a tolerant religious believer would support it. What people who think religious symbols bans forget is that secularism isn’t just supposed to be good for nonbelievers, it’s supposed to be good for believers too – which is why so many religious people support secularism. Unlike the anti-religious intolerance of laïcité, secularism allows the free practice of religion by citizens… so long as that practice does not infringe on any else’s rights. And I’m still waiting for an explanation of how a bus driver wearing a dastar or a passport office clerk wearing a hijab infringes on anyone’s rights.

I should note that from a legal perspective, this whole debate is moot in any case. The Supreme Court has already signalled in the Mouvement laïque québécois v Saguenay (City) ruling that a religious symbols ban would not survive a Charter challenge, something that numerous legal experts have also noted.

I am under no illusion that this article will end the veil ban debate. Frankly, the people promoting the ban have no interest in being reasoned with; and I say this as someone who has tried repeatedly. Proponents want to ban the expression of some or all religions simply because they hate those specific religions or religion in general. That’s all there is to it. There’s no reason behind it. It’s just straight up intolerance.

But at the very least I hope this will be one small part in ending the dishonest practice of pretending that bans on wearing religious symbols are secularism. Oh, I full expect proponents will continue to call it secularism. But perhaps this article will help people realize that when they’re doing it that, they’re asserting it as a “just-so fact” with no explanation, no justification, and no real basis.

The next time you see someone trying to spin a religious accessories ban as “secularism”, challenge them. Ask them to explain exactly how you get from a requirement that governments take no positions on religion or religious beliefs to restricting the freedoms of individual religious believers. Don’t let them gloss over it and hand-wave away the inconsistencies and lack of real justification.

Secularism has suffered a hit to its stellar reputation due to the dishonesty of veil ban bozos. Let’s save it from hate.

20 thoughts on “Religious accessories bans are not secularism

  1. I agree entirely.

    Even as someone who considers themselves an Anti-Theist, I have never had a problem merely seeing people out in public wearing different religious accessories.

    • Sure, but that shouldn’t even be a consideration. Even if 99.9% of Québécois were completely *disgusted* by some accessory – if they found it revolting, degrading, dehumanizing (of the wearer), and disgusting – that is *STILL* not justification for banning it. If that were justification enough for law banning something, then it would be okay to ban listening to Nickelback.

      You know what the really depressing thing is? So many of these ban supporters are the same people who will say “you don’t have a right to not be offended” to justify things like repealing blasphemy laws. The irony is so thick there it’s almost a physical solid.

  2. Indi:
    Would you be able to address possible concerns that people might have where public employees having some authority over you at the point of interaction (or are the gatekeepers of you getting the service you need) go about denying you the service you need due to their displayed beliefs?
    What if THEY’RE the bigoted, discriminatory ones costing you the time and effort to now have to go around them to find someone who doesn’t have the appearance of possibly being bigoted or discriminatory?

    I don’t think I’ve ever experienced that so I’m just wondering.

    • Sure, but I don’t see how that’s related to wearing religious accessories.

      If there is an employee (doesn’t need to be a public employee either) who is blocking you from accessing some service for any non-work-related reason (doesn’t need to be a religious reason)… fire ’em. There’s really nothing to debate there, and nothing to do with religion. If you are preventing clients from accessing some service that it is your job to provide without a unjustifiable reason… you deserve to be fired.


      Of course, that’s the simplistic answer. Reality can get very complicated. Very complicated. We can get really deep in the weeds here. I’ll just give you a taste of how complicated things can get:

      Consider doctors providing abortion services. A doctor who doesn’t want to provide abortion services for religious reasons shouldn’t be forced to provide them… noone should be forced to anything they don’t want to do. But if you look carefully, that doesn’t actually contradict with what I wrote two paragraphs up. So long as the doctor isn’t blocking you from getting abortion services, there’s no requirement that the doctor provide them themselves. The doctor could simply refer you to someone who will provide the services.

      Note that this doesn’t necessarily have to be a religious thing. Just about any excuse – within reason – the doctor has for not wanting to provide the service should be treated the same way.

      • It could be “I don’t want to deal with abortion for religious reasons”…
      • or it could be “I could handle abortions, but yours is a special case with complications I don’t feel I have enough expertise to deal with”…
      • or it could be “I don’t want to deal with abortion because I just miscarried, and I’m not in a good emotional place”…
      • or it could be “I want to get an early start on weekend golfing, so I don’t want to get entangled in this case right now”.*

      * (True story: When my brother was born – my mother’s third child – the doctor actually told her this. Specifically, he said: “Look, you’re pretty close, but it could be another few hours, or it could be another day or two… but it’s Friday, and I want to get my golf on for the weekend early… so would it be okay if I gave you a shot to induce labour so we could get this over with quickly?” My mom was like: “Fuck yeah, let’s get this over with.” What happened next was actually fucking hilarious (things didn’t go quite as planned), but it would be too much of a digression to go into right here.)

      And the doctor doesn’t even need to tell you the reason why they’re declining the job. If they are not going to do it, that’s all they need to tell you. In fact, they probably shouldn’t tell you why they won’t do it; the client doesn’t need to know about the employee’s personal problems (“I have raging inflamed hemorrhoids right now, so I’m not feeling up to it”), or personal beliefs (“I worship a raging inflamed hemorrhoid, so I’m too self-righteous to do it”). All they need to tell you is that they’re going to pass your case along. (They do need to justify their decision to their boss, though. And it’s perfectly legitimate for the boss to decide certain excuses simply aren’t acceptable – due to limited resources or whatever – or that they’ve just given too many excuses too often.)

      You have to remember that people aren’t machines, and they don’t become machines just because they’re at work getting paid to do a job. They don’t become slaves either. You have to allow for some flexibility. This is not just about religious accommodation… it’s more about accommodating humanity. (Which, of course, includes some amount of accommodating religion, along with accommodating imperfection, forgetfulness, frailness, and even occasional mild stupidity.)

      But there are, of course, limits to that accommodation. The flexibility has to go both ways. We can’t force a doctor to provide abortion services… but if that doctor won’t even meet us half-way and provide referrals to other doctors who will… then fuck ’em. A doctor who won’t personally do some procedures is tolerable (a referral isn’t a huge help, but it is some help)… but a doctor who will block patients from getting procedures is not.

      So, the summary so far: Blocking access to a service it is your job to provide is a straight-up fireable offence. But not providing the service yourself can be excused, provided you still see that the service gets provided somehow. This can be as trivial as: “Sorry, could I hand your case over to Alice here?” Or it could be as complicated as a formal referral and transfer.

      But that’s still just the tip of this very big iceberg. For example: What about cases where referral is not possible (for example, there are no available doctors within range who will provide abortion services)? What about situations where someone’s job description has changed from what they signed up for (for example, what’s happening with medical assistance in dying, where the laws changed after most doctors became doctors)? What about situations where the referral/transfer is difficult/dangerous? What about… what about… what about…. You can see there’s a lot to chew on here – stuff like whether people providing essential services (like doctors) or in positions of authority (like judges) have different rules from “regular” people (I’ve mostly been considering things from a “regular” person perspective here).

      I’m probably disappointing you by not providing a single, clear-cut answer, even after all that verbiage… but those rarely work in reality. There’s a saying: “any rule that is absolute is unjust”. Reality is complicated, people are complicated, life is complicated – note I’m not even mentioning religion – so the rules we need to work with are going to be complicated, too.

  3. Thanks Indi.
    I guess my scenario had to do with warring religions. Say…northern Ireland back in the day (if not still). Catholics and Protestants. A Protestant is working at the position. It’s Northern Ireland natch. A Catholic comes up needing services. The Protestant says piss off. None of your types around here. Or whatever. Or makes it really difficult to access those services.
    Imagine that with any other warring religions from far off locales…working here.
    Or even religious needing to serve non-religious. Or religious serving unknown belief.

  4. Sorry…in addition…so my wondering is for the sake of the person needing the services. Would they feel that they might not get the service they need facing across from a person being overtly religious of a religion that might otherwise be opposed to your religion or beliefs..

    • Ah, I think I see what you’re getting at now. So like, suppose you have a Myanmar Buddhist and a Rohingya Muslim, both fresh out of Maungdaw (where some of the worst violence from both sides has taken place)… they both happen to be in some shop or service desk in Canada – one as client, one as employee – and they recognize each others’ religion/ethnicity. Obviously if the employee does anything bigoted outright, that’s a straight-up fireable offence. But what you’re asking about is what the client feels: they recognize that the employee is their “enemy”, and thus fears or expects bigotry from them. Right?

      This idea reminds me of one of the “arguments” made for a religious symbols ban. The “argument” goes that if employees are allowed to wear visible signs of religion, there is a possibility that someone from a group that has been persecuted by that religion (either historically or currently, locally or somewhere else) would be reminded of that persecution, and somehow either feel that the persecution is being tolerated by the employer, or maybe be triggered into some kind of flashback to the persecution, or something like that. Basically, a person who was once persecuted by X group might be triggered in some way by the sight of a visibly X person working at some service position.*

      I would say that there is a certain amount of adulting expected from not just the employee, but also the client. I’ve already given a basic set of rules for the employee, so I’ll focus on the client here… and the rules are essentially the same:

      • The client should be allowed to request a different employee to provide the service.
      • The client does not have to explain why they want a different employee. (And of course, there are plenty of reasons that may have nothing to do with religion. Even something like: “This employee looks too much like my abusive former partner.”)

      If a practical alternative exists, it should be provided. And of course, if no alternatives exist, the client either has to suck up and deal with the unwanted employee, or just leave.

      But in any case, the employee is in no way guilty of anything if the client has a prejudiced reason for not wanting to deal with them. To set up a hypothetical example, suppose we have a woman who was horrifically oppressed under a Jewish regime (let’s say she comes from some ultra-Orthodox sect), then she walks into some office and there at the desk is a man wearing a kippah, payot, and full beard. It’s perfectly understandable that she might be triggered by that sight. But there is no sane way anyone can argue that it was the man‘s fault.** He didn’t oppress her (presumably). He may not even actually be Jewish! He may just like the look. (Because why not? I’ve often wondered what I’d look like in a dastar with the right beard. I think I’d look pretty badass, actually.)

      It’s unfortunate, and probably even tragic, but in that case, if there is no alternative, the woman simply has to find some way to overcome her (admittedly understandable) prejudice. (If there is an alternative, well, then, all she has do is ask for it, and it should be provided, no explanations necessary.)

      So in summary, I’d say the idea is basically the same for both service provider and client: You are free to request a referral/transfer to a different provider/client, and you never have to give reasons why. But in cases where referral/transfer is not possible, you have to be flexible, and you have to compromise. If you’re the provider and you won’t compromise, you shouldn’t be a provider; you should be fired. If you’re the client and you won’t compromise… well, you’re really just screwing yourself, and you would deserve it. Religious belief is not really a particular issue in any of this – and neither are religious accessories, of course.


      * (Using this “argument” to argue for a religious symbols ban is mindbogglingly disingenuous. It only makes “sense” if you believe that the only people who can be persecutors are religious. That certainly fits with the common islamophobic belief that only Islam is evil (or Islam is more evil than everything else, or whatever). But it doesn’t fit reality. A person coming from a place where Muslims are the perpetrators of persecution could be triggered by a visibly Muslim employee, sure… but a person coming from a place where Muslims are victims of persecution – and such places do exist, despite what islamophobes believe… hell, I just mentioned Myanmar – may actually be comforted by a visible sign of Islam. And yet another person may be triggered because someone’s nice suit just happens to resemble the suit worn by the agents of a particularly nasty repressive government… so should we ban those types of suits? Someone else may be triggered merely by someone vaguely resembling a particular ethnic group… so should we ban people who sorta look like they may be part of ethnic groups that have committed atrocities? This “argument” quickly spirals into absurdity when you really think about it.)

      ** (It’s not the woman‘s fault either. If anyone is to blame, it was the people who oppressed her. But sometimes, in reality, there just isn’t anyone to blame. Sometimes, a person just has some trauma or phobia or hangup of some kind, and that just sucks… but there’s no one to blame for it.)

  5. Thanks Indi.
    I am not personally affected by any of this. If I were to be served by someone say in a full-face veil I think I would at first be taken aback and then just whatever. They’re just people trying to get by just like me. But then perhaps them complying with the culture/religion that would ask that of them maybe wouldn’t “let” them be working at some public-face job anyway. But that’s just being ignorantly stereotypical.
    I was just wanting your take on how one who might be affected whichever way may and could respond.
    Perhaps if someone were to duckduckgo 🙂 this topic then they might find your excellent observations.

  6. I could not understand why you tried to soften the content of secularism, while I am agree with some parts of the article.

    Namely,

    Secularism is the practice of the separation of civil society and religious society by the state. It is a state element; people are not secular theoretically, the states are; which I think you know that.

    If we go back to the subject. If the state adopts the principle of secularism, it feels the need for prohibition on the use of religious items in the public area. Nothing more natural than that.

    We can see secularism as two branches under the same roof, with the “constitutional equality of everyone”(which should be) in the constitution. When the state exercises the right of punishment determined by law, it should not discriminate among individuals according to their beliefs.

    Show me a country that does not matter whether the percental majority of the society of this country is Muslim, Jewish or Christian, when you say I am an atheist, they behave you totally without prejudice. There is no such country, I guess except Sweden.

    If you are standing in front of a judge who wears religious things a cross, a religious headscarf or etc, or a teacher who wears them, there is no guarantee that they will approach to you without prejudice. If equality is desired, the religious lives of the identities must be kept away from public spaces. Constitutional secularism is for this.

    If you take this away from the secularism principle, what remains?

    • I could not understand why you tried to soften the content of secularism, while I am agree with some parts of the article.

      I have not “softened” secularism. I have actually described it in its original, correct form. What you apparently think is “secularism” is a warped view that is a very recent invention.

      I can prove it too. The very first modern secular state was the United States. Take a look at what the first amendment of their constitution says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; …” It’s there plain as day, explaining that the point of a secular government is not to place restrictions on religion, as you seem to think. It’s also worth noting that a couple of the US “Founding Fathers” were clergy.

      It’s even more blatantly clear in the French secularism law, which after saying pretty much the same thing as the US Constitution does above, explicitly allows (in Article 2) religious practice in public schools, prisons, and other places where the state is responsible for people. (Later on, in Article 40, it bans clergy from public office… but only in the areas where they do their religious work, and only for 8 years after the law was passed (in 1905). This was probably a political safety mechanism to stave off battles in the government among lawmakers while the new secularism law was still being implemented. Once it was fully in place, there was no more restriction on clergy from public office. And there was never any restriction on clergy or religious practice in general in public.)

      Secularism is the practice of the separation of civil society and religious society by the state. It is a state element; people are not secular theoretically, the states are; which I think you know that.

      I do, which always leaves me scratching my head at why people who claim to be fighting for secularism always seem to dog-bothered about what people are wearing, often to the point of ignoring what the state itself is doing.

      If we go back to the subject. If the state adopts the principle of secularism, it feels the need for prohibition on the use of religious items in the public area. Nothing more natural than that.

      On the contrary, as I’ve already shown, that is not secularism, and never was.

      But, for the sake of argument, let’s pretend that that actually is what secularism is supposed to be. Do you agree that anything a government does should be based on reason or evidence, and that doing things just for the sake of habit, tradition, or ideology is wrong? I’m going to assume yes. That means that even secularism – whatever you think the definition is – with all of its provisions should itself be scrutinized, and should be able to pass a smell test of reason and evidence. In other words, we shouldn’t be following the brainless logic of “secularism good; do secularism” without double-checking that secularism and everything it does really is good.

      So what, exactly, is the argument for banning the wearing of religious accessories in the public arena? It’s not good enough to say “it’s secularism”. Justify it. Use logical argument or observed evidence to show that wearing religious accessories in public actually harms the state or the population in some way, or violates the state’s duty to be a neutral institution.

      I’m going to say right up front that you will fail. Because that is a ridiculous proposition on the face of it. The only reason the idea has any traction at all is because some people have fooled many people into believing that that’s “secularism”, and because secularism is good, that’s good too. That’s just sleight of hand. Because secularism is good, and has been proven by reason and evidence to be good… but only the proper definition of secularism. So the trick is simply to fool people into thinking the definition you’re using is the definition of secularism, and it can slide by without being examined using the credentials real secularism has earned.

      Show me a country that does not matter whether the percental majority of the society of this country is Muslim, Jewish or Christian, when you say I am an atheist, they behave you totally without prejudice. There is no such country, I guess except Sweden.

      So? There is also no country with an atheist majority, present or historical, that doesn’t have at least some level of oppression against believers. Go ahead and check. The countries with the largest atheist populations are countries like China, a few former Soviet countries, Japan, North Korea… all of them are repressive of at least some sects of believers in some way. Stripping religion out of government does not magically make a government tolerant and accepting.

      If you are standing in front of a judge who wears religious things a cross, a religious headscarf or etc, or a teacher who wears them, there is no guarantee that they will approach to you without prejudice.

      Uh huh? And do you really believe the jaw-droppingly silly notion that if you were to forcibly strip that same judge of their religious accessory, that would make them less likely to be prejudiced?

      Are you seriously clueless enough to believe that if you see a judge without any religious accessories, that guarantees that they won’t show any prejudice?

      And even if it were true that a religious accessory is somehow evidence of potential prejudice (which is bullshit)… do you really believe it would be a good idea to remove a sign of a judge’s potential biases, making it harder to guess at what they might be?

      I don’t think you’ve really given any serious thought to this argument.

      If equality is desired, the religious lives of the identities must be kept away from public spaces.

      That is the most ridiculous and outright offensive idea of “equality” I can say I’ve seen in a long time. You think that in order for us to have equality, we have to strip away visible signs of differences between us? You think that merely looking different is enough to violate the principle equality?

      You seriously believe that equality requires homogeneity? Dude, that’s straight up white nationalist-level shit. That’s actually their argument. I mean that literally. They claim we need to have a “white ethno-state” because it is impossible to have equality when you have obvious (racial) differences in a population. The only difference between you and them is that they are focusing on visible signs of “racial” differences, while you are focusing on visible signs of religious differences. Otherwise your arguments are basically identical. Do you think the only reason their arguments are offensive is because they mention race, while you can make the exact same arguments using religion and it makes perfect sense?

      Equality does not require forcibly stripping away certain parts of people’s identities… and in fact, forcibly stripping away stuff from only certain people (religious people, in your case) is literally the opposite of equality. All equality requires is that we treat everyone the same (more or less)… not that everyone appears the same.

      • Firstly, I am commenting to your article from Turkey, so I am not relevant with white nationalism; I am not be able to be consensus with them in the slightest sense. If where I am from is not enough to support my claim for you, read my following words right now: Because I am a communist and atheist.

        Although I thank you for showing me your attention to detail by addressing my sentences one by one, I’ve found strange that you could do it with an aggressive language. Of course, if people are writing the article, they can be criticized, but answering them as an author, might be a little calm; this is just a recommendation.

        And since 1923 in Turkey, the principle of secularism, it is in the second of the first three items of the constitution, which is these three can not be changed and/or can not be offered to change. There is no other Muslim country where the secularism is in such an unchangeable position and regulates its constitutional items accordingly for a long time, on the planet. So if we are examining secularism for the whole world population (for all human beings)without discrimination Muslim or Jewish or Christian or atheist, then it should also be examined it on Turkey the best example in the Muslim world, not only on the basis of Christian-Jewish or atheist population majority.

        Turkey had taken the secularism into the constitution by taking the example of France. Many terms have passed from the French constitution. Not just terms, but in practice. There are, however, certain laws of Turkey that you can not find in the other constitutions mentioned as secular; even more than France. For example, in France there is a political party called the Christian Democratic Party. But according to the law of political parties in the Constitution of Turkey, “any political party, can not use any religion name as the name of the party,”. You can never establish a party called Muslim democrat party, or Christian democrat party or etc in Turkey; so, secularism has very sharp lines in Turkey(maybe I should say it was).

        Between 1923-2013, there was a ban on wearing religions’ items on public space according to laws of Turkey. Actually although it was on the constitution, this ban was not applied too much after about 2007. And finally the government canceled this ban with an amendment of the regulation.

        Lets see what happened after then,(all these following events were brought to trial in Turkey)

        **I hope also these events will be the answers with logical arguments to your saying: “So what, exactly, is the argument for banning the wearing of religious accessories in the public arena? It’s not good enough to say “it’s secularism”. Justify it. Use logical argument or observed evidence to show that wearing religious accessories in public actually harms the state or the population in some way, or violates the state’s duty to be a neutral institution.”

        For example a woman doctor with hijab didn’t look after a patient who is 15 years old boy, because of the reason of she could need to have to perform an ablution again.
        The similar event with this has never happened before.

        A high school principal reacted with yelling “are you an atheist'” against the students who did not want to take the book named “the life of our prophet” which was sent to schools by the recommendation of the distribution of the Ministry of National Education in a province of Istanbul.
        The similar event with this has never happened before.

        In the city of Tokat,Turkey a teacher with a headscarf in a middle school has said to the girl students at the class “you don’t wear headscarf ; rape and also evilness is suitable for you.”
        The similar event with this has never happened before.

        The city of Adana, Turkey, at an elementary school, a teacher took the student’s mother out from class, while in parents’ meeting, due to mother didn’t wear headscarf.
        The similar event with this has never happened before.

        And there are so many events except these.

        And it all started and multiplied after the ban on the using of religious items in public space, was lifted into last 4 years. Do you know that this was perceived as a kind of victory. After cancelled ban, social pressure increased into society. Not just in public space but in everywhere.

        Drinking alcohol is prohibited in open areas, even in some cities that have coast (in touristic cities), by some municipalities. Before the New Year’s Eve, the hanging banners like “celebrating Christmas is a Christian business and forbidden by religion” was allowed. People who ate in Ramadan, even drinking water on the road, began to get beating. Because of the women were wearing shorts in the bus, they were beaten; and those men who beat them at different times and different places told for excuse that they made this because they thought the style of dress was not appropriate for Islam. And these men do not get punished by law; do you know.

        While talking about women, recently, at last, about one week ago, proposal of authorization of solemnizing the marriage was given the imams in Turkey. Previously, only the official municipal officer could do this job. This is a very important event. If you ask me why; like Turkey, in a country where half of a population can approve the little girls can marry under 18, they can now marry these little girls with an imam, and then their parents will say “she has official marriage.” It means that kind of their lives are taken from these girls’s hands.

        So, you have said that: “So the trick is simply to fool people into thinking the definition you’re using is the definition of secularism…”

        There is no trick in here. These have been happening in a corner of the planet, and in a country where can be powerly claimed as the most secular muslim country on the planet.

        Now I think that the situation here is contradictory to where we need to look at the subject. So if, as I mentioned earlier, if we speak about secularism for the whole humanity, and this obvious change in its legal practice (lifting the ban) causes such big changes in a country with a Muslim majority, then what should be done?

        I have never residenced in Europe or America. I can only talk about Russia and Turkey because these countries are two places I lived in.

        And I’m really asking; it may be you can answer aggressivly again; but I am seriously asking,

        Considering that secularism should not be handled exclusively through Christian-Jewish and atheistic societies, and that it needs to be addressed in general (about 2 billion Muslim populations in the world), it is already discriminatory to do so,

        how can be protected the rights of members of other religions or atheists in a country with a majority of Muslims, if these prohibitions do not exist?

        Ps: I didn’t add the events news web links into comment also they are in Turkish, because generally, the links can be perceived as spam in comment; but if you want to look at the links I can add them too.

        • Although I thank you for showing me your attention to detail by addressing my sentences one by one, I’ve found strange that you could do it with an aggressive language. Of course, if people are writing the article, they can be criticized, but answering them as an author, might be a little calm; this is just a recommendation.

          1. I didn’t use aggressive language. I used clear language. The reason it felt aggressive is because you were being criticized because your ideas were terrible.
          2. Whenever someone starts whining about “aggressive language”, it’s almost always because they lack any decent rational arguments they can use in response.

          And since 1923 in Turkey, the principle of secularism, it is in the second of the first three items of the constitution, which is these three can not be changed and/or can not be offered to change. There is no other Muslim country where the secularism is in such an unchangeable position and regulates its constitutional items accordingly for a long time, on the planet. So if we are examining secularism for the whole world population (for all human beings)without discrimination Muslim or Jewish or Christian or atheist, then it should also be examined it on Turkey the best example in the Muslim world, not only on the basis of Christian-Jewish or atheist population majority.

          The reason Turkey is never used as an example when talking about secularism is because calling Turkey a secular country is laughable.

          First of all, Turkey does not use secularism. It uses laïcité. That is literally what Turkey uses. The Turkish Constitution talks about “lâik” and “lâiklik“… both words clearly derived from laïcité. And it’s been explained several times, both here on Canadian Atheist and elsewhere: laïcité… is… not… secularism. Laïcité is about actively controlling religion, not being neutral to it like secularism.

          That’s problem one. The second problem is that even talking in terms of laïcité and not secularism, Turkey is doing it horrifically wrong. Turkey literally has a government office dedicated to teaching and policing religion: the Diyanet. And it’s no small office; it gets twice the budget of the science ministry or the ministry of health. And it teaches and polices one very specific religion: Hanafi Sunni Islam. It literally writes the sermons given at mosques across the country, where the imams are actually public employees. There is a particular religious orthodoxy that is actually a required part of everyone’s public education. All of that is literally the opposite of secularism. You cannot get more non-secular than that.

          Turkey can call itself secular until it’s blue in the face, just like North Korea can call itself “democratic” and Islam can call itself a religion of “peace”. Saying it won’t make it true.

          And it all started and multiplied after the ban on the using of religious items in public space, was lifted into last 4 years. Do you know that this was perceived as a kind of victory. After cancelled ban, social pressure increased into society. Not just in public space but in everywhere.

          Gee, all those examples sound really horrible… except… you’re not really telling the whole story, are you?

          See, the situation in Turkey is not really unique to Turkey. Countries across the world time and time again have discovered that if you oppress religion… it doesn’t really go away. (Not unless you go all out and actually murder everyone who practices that religion, and even then that doesn’t always work.) In fact, the opposite happens. It turns out that religion thrives on oppression. Religion loves to be persecuted, so much that religious people will even make up oppression when it isn’t happening. If you want to make a religion stronger and more extreme, the best thing you do is oppress it.

          And what happens after you oppress religion long enough is that eventually religious people start to slip into power… and when enough of them do, they are going to turn that oppression right the hell back around. We’ve seen this over and over again. For example, Russia: after years and years of communist oppression of religion, the moment people let their guard down, religion roared right back into power.

          For many, many years, Turkey oppressed Muslims. You can try to call it “secularism”, but that’s straight-up bullshit. It was oppression. Around 2⁄3 of Turkish women wear the hijab, but in the name of fake “secularism”, the government banned them from getting jobs, running for office, even from merely entering public buildings, and even from getting an education. If you want to try to argue that preventing women from getting an education is in any way secular, well then here, I have some “aggressive language” for you: fuck off.

          Turkish oppression of Islam had pretty much nothing to do with the idea of secularism, and everything to do with the silly notion that religion is “backward” and needs to be erased for a country to be “civilized” and “modern”. The evidence of that is clear from history. Atatürk didn’t just ban the hijab, he also banned the fez. What does the fez have to do with religion? Nothing. It’s just that, like the hijab, it was a symbol of what Atatürk didn’t like.

          So here’s the thing. All those examples you trotted out as evidence of “increased social pressure”… it’s not that social pressure has actually “increased”. All that’s happened is the pendulum has swung, and the people who were being harassed and persecuted 10 years ago are now the ones doing the harassing… and the harassers from 10 years ago are now the victims. There has been no “increase” in social pressure. It’s just shifted away from the pressure on the people you don’t care about to the people you do care about.

          I could respond to every one of your examples with a dozen examples of people being persecuted for wearing hijabs, if I could be bothered to do the research – especially if I focused on the period before the Islamists started to take power. But here’s just one example from this year: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/woman-arrested-after-pulling-off-headscarf-of-student-on-public-bus-in-istanbul.aspx?pageID=238&nID=109790&NewsCatID=341

          You see, the problem in Turkey isn’t that religious people have suddenly started picking on secular people, as you are attempting to frame it. The problem in Turkey is that it is a country that has been oppressive for decades, and the only thing that has “changed” is that the victims for almost a hundred years are starting to bite back and do a little oppressing of their own.

          Considering that secularism should not be handled exclusively through Christian-Jewish and atheistic societies, and that it needs to be addressed in general (about 2 billion Muslim populations in the world), it is already discriminatory to do so, how can be protected the rights of members of other religions or atheists in a country with a majority of Muslims, if these prohibitions do not exist?

          Your question is ill-formed, and it shows how misguided your idea of secularism is. Secularism does not exist to protect the rights of atheists or non-Muslims. It exists to protect the rights of everybodyincluding Muslims.

          To see how screwed up your understanding of secularism is just try rewording your question to ask, “How could you protect the rights of Muslims from atheist or other religious majorities?” You’re going to get a very different answer from the answer you think you should get to question you asked… which shows that your idea of “secularism” is clearly not neutral. That is the difference between secularism and laïcité: for secularism, the answer to both questions is the same, because secularism is truly neutral… but for laïcité, the answer changes depending on whether the majority is Muslim or non-Muslim.

          For secularism, it doesn’t matter whether the majority is Muslim or non-Muslim, and it doesn’t matter whether the minority is atheist or religious or whatever. It’s the same answer for everyone:

          • The state must take no position on any religious matters without a clear health, safety, or security justification for doing so.
          • The state must not base any of its decisions or actions religious reasoning, belief, or custom.
          • the state must neither favour nor hinder any religious belief or practice that does not threaten the rights or freedoms of others.

          A hijab ban fails to meet that standard. There is no logic or evidence that justifies banning hijabs.* A hijab ban only makes sense if your goal is repress the practice of wearing a hijab… and since the wearing of hijab is mostly entirely an Islamic religious practice, that means a hijab ban can only be about repressing Islam. You can try to put as much lipstick on that pig as you like, but it’s still bacon.

          A hijab ban makes “sense” under laïcité because the point of laïcité is not secularism, it is about defining protecting national identity – in this case, “Turkish identity”. Turkish laïcité is about protecting Atatürk’s vision of Turkey, by oppressing anything that offends it… whether that’s fezzes or hijabs.

          * (Your attempt to show evidence for why a hijab ban is requried by listing a bunch of examples of individuals doing horrible things fails to prove anything. All you’ve shown is that there are some assholes who want to force others to wear the hijab. Sure, but so what? Why does that make banning the hijab necessary? It wouldn’t even solve anything: The same assholes will just find something else to harass students for, like wearing makeup or dressing in revealing clothes. What, are you now going to try banning non-revealing clothes, or going out without makeup?)

          • From your first reply: “Use logical argument or observed evidence to show that wearing religious accessories in public actually harms the state or the population in some way, or violates the state’s duty to be a neutral institution.”

            You wanted some evidence, and I added some evidence about the situation. Even if I agree with you about the between laicism and secularism difference(there are so many things to need to talk over the appling in Turkey), which is your want wasn’t relate with secularism or laicism conditions, it was related with human acts, why you don’t accept my examples which including public offiicers like a woman doctor wearing hijab, or teacher? I have said that (it was clear), these events never happened before ban canceled, so these public officers got a chance to give harm to some public members with canceling ban on wearing religious items. They have the ability to move freely. Because the hijab ban was kind of carrying a flag in a flag race for them. Once they have achieved this, they are beginning to think that they can do as they would in other situations.

            Your opinion:
            “For many, many years, Turkey oppressed Muslims. You can try to call it “secularism”, but that’s straight-up bullshit. It was oppression. Around 23 of Turkish women wear the hijab, but in the name of fake “secularism”, the government banned them from getting jobs, running for office, even from merely entering public buildings, and even from getting an education. If you want to try to argue that preventing women from getting an education is in any way secular, well then here, I have some “aggressive language” for you: fuck off.”

            So for you, in Turkey Muslims were oppresed. I cannot keep my laugh in here, haha!

            Do you know, your talking seems so much similar with western imperialist language. My writings after than, are the knowledges about what happened in Turkey after 1923. If you want to learn some things without effecting western mainstream media or sources, you can get profit from these true knowledges for yourself. This is up to you.

            Also, I have to add that you are acting in your comments like you are in a battle. I came here and read all yours blog to learn some things. To learn is important for me. Is it important to you? Or, are you a person who say that “I know everything completly, my sources never wrong, I am hundred percent sure of my knowledge,”? I cannot say that; I always want to learn with open mind. And, when I said you used the agressive language, yes, I think still same because you don’t understand that, for a person who knows better Turkish and Russian than English, your language seems an agressive. Maybe, this is about cultural and language differences; thats all. And for me there is no inconveniency to say this. You could just have skipped what I said (“agressive language” words) and talked to me, but you still seem to act same to me. Maybe you don’t understand me still, anyway. Besides, even if you feel yourself in a battle, you can learn many things from opponent side in a battle. If you really want to learn some things real about Turkey history by removing the blinded and western influenced glasses, here thats come. Maybe when you will read following knowledges, you will realize that you acted so prejudiced and were wrong, while you were saying these:
            “Whenever someone starts whining about “aggressive language”, it’s almost always because they lack any decent rational arguments they can use in response.”

            And, let’s start with the Diyanet.

            The Diyanet was founded in 1924 by the order of Ataturk. Its organizational intention was quite different from the current one. There were the public who came out of two big wars, a world war and their own liberation war; Anatolia was in total poverty and left in ignorant. The most important reason why the people of Anatolia were ignorant was that to write in Turkish language was forbidden by the Ottomans. Yes, this is something many westerners have deliberately ignored, and it is a true knowledge. You think that the people who speaks Turkish at home, outside, at the bazaar so in everwhere, but when it comes to writing, the Ottoman rulers say to them “you can write only in Ottoman language”(it was farsi and arabian mixed language). The situation of the minorities was different, Armenians, Jewish and Rums could write in their own language, but Turkmens could not. This situation started with after third Ottoman sultan and has long about 500 years.

            The purpose of the establishment of Diyanet was to enlighten the people who have been exploited over their religious feelings for centuries and to raise intellectual clerics in order to prevent fake foolhardy clergymen. In other words, it was founded in order to save the people from ignorance and religion abusing. The only thing the Diyanet has done for the first five years was to translate the Qur’an into Turkish; to publish new books that will tell Islam, and translation some works like Buhara’s, for children, adults, many different parts of the society(separately with all groups), even for soldiers in the next 10 years, to distribute them and to raise up clergymen-imams.

            If you are trying to save a new country from a great destruction in every angle, then you have to deal with subject which left the people in ignorant. In doing this, making the letter revolution, the removal of the caliphate and others were necessary. Diyanet was established with the aim of ensuring that this situation continues in a controlled and scientific way. There was nothing more natural than that for that day’s conditions. And yes, using “the scientific and Diyanet” in same sentences seems funny to me too, when thinking Diyanet situation in today’s. 🙂

            It would be better if we say that the twisted of the current Diyanet started in the time of the Menderes government about 1950s(which is Ataturk died in 1938). It was exactly the time when the American Marshall plan to Turkey came into play. Subsequently, with the CIA-backed fascist military coup of September 12, 1980 the situation of the Diyanet in Turkey was well under the influence of sects, the Sunni sect as you have mentioned, and even plus, these three, naqshbandi, nur and gulen communities more effective within the Sunni sect.

            And while it all has been happening, there is something about the hijab ban in Turkey somewhere in these dates.

            Firstly, the hijab word is not used in the Turkish language, but the word “turban” is used instead of the hijab, in the Turkish language. We need to mention turban in Turkey, because it is a very important detail.

            Women in Anatolia never used turban style headscarf until middle of 1970s. I think this is new information for you. I mean, you think a society, the majority of women are Muslims, and these women have not used a headscarf style like these pictures for centuries (what I’m saying “these pictures”, if you write in google pictures ” women in hijab in Turkey” you can see “these pictures”.) Turban is a name given to headscarf like this style(into these pictures) in Turkey(I am not mentioned about it’s word origin or how using in other languages; just trying to expain how “turban” word uses in Turkey and using for what). So, in Turkey this is the situation.

            For centuries in Anatolia and still among the women two types of headscarves were/are used. These are called “yazma” and “eşarp.” in Turkish. If you copy and paste the “yazmalı kadınlar” in google pictures, you can see what “yazma” looks like. Eşarp is also a headscarf that does not completely cover the hair and tied with a single knot under the neck. It is out of the subject but, if I say somethings about chador, this was not the clothes of women in Anatolia either. Chador has began to be used by the wife of governor of Egypt who turned back Istanbul after his duty, in used by rich people in Istanbul kind of fashion in 1830s. The ordinary women of Anatolia did not use the chador until the begining of the last century.

            And here the ban on hijab, so “turban” issue:

            When I said “Between 1923-2013, there was a ban on wearing religions’ items on public space according to laws of Turkey.”, I was mentioning the ban on only “chador” for womens, there were also ban for mens clothes. You have said that:

            “It was oppression. Around 23 of Turkish women wear the hijab, but in the name of fake “secularism”, the government banned them from getting jobs, running for office, even from merely entering public buildings, and even from getting an education.”

            If a woman is wearing yazma or eşarp, there was no ban on them, it was only ban for chador begining with 1923; and after 1982(after fascist military coup) ban for turban. Do you understand what I mean. Because turban was accepted as religious item, but yazma and eşarp never weren’t accepted as religious items. It can be seemed in dilemma in here for you. But for more understanding, you need to know the religious understanding in Turkey. These women who wear yazma or eşarp see themselves as be linked with Islam deeply for centruies. You can be surprised maybe, but when “turban” style emerged in Turkey, the women with yazma and eşarp have been very terrified more the women without headscraf. If you ask any woman with eşarp or yazma in Anatolia, “why you don’t wear turban instead of yazma or eşarp?”, they will be angry to you with saying “who can tell me how I live my religion better than me!”

            And there has been a social pressure especially on girls who wears yazma and go to highschool or college, about wearing turban instead of yazma last fifteen years. So in here there is a pressure of turban on the other cultural headscarves of Anatolia women in reality. The figure that you have said “Around 23 of Turkish women wear the hijab”, is wrong information. Because not around 23, it is about 45 and including this 45% figure there are the women with turban, with yazma, with eşarp. But everything has been so wrong served to the world public by western mainstream media and sources deliberatively, many people out of Turkey think that, there has been pressure on the Muslim womens in Turkey.

            You have said that:

            “Turkish oppression of Islam had pretty much nothing to do with the idea of secularism, and everything to do with the silly notion that religion is “backward” and needs to be erased for a country to be “civilized” and “modern”. The evidence of that is clear from history. Atatürk didn’t just ban the hijab, he also banned the fez. What does the fez have to do with religion? Nothing. It’s just that, like the hijab, it was a symbol of what Atatürk didn’t like.”

            You just think again, after what I wrote.

            Because, the geopolitic state of Turkey is very fragile on the region. The things what western mainstream media or sources disseminate to the world public are very contorted.

            You can read the sources that do not target Ataturk, on Turkish modernization. Ataturk was not a person who forbid “the things that he didn’t not like” as you described. Of course, if you think modernization was made only through the imamah and chodor ban in Turkey, you are on the wrong path. Because of Ataturk’s revolutions, Anatolian Muslims could learn what they wrote in the Qur’an, because they could read and write in their own language. And of course what I say may seem to you in a meaningless, if you are a person who finds wrong of worship in mother language. And the first fifteen years (Ataturk period) in agriculture, industry, education and science have made such big breakthroughs that even the professors went to the most remote villages of Anatolia and taught such as music or biology to the children in the 1930s. Are these ridiculous or silly for you? The farming areas were not in the hands of the villagers in Ottoman period, with republic and Ataturk revolutions they began to harvest their own land; is that absurd or silly for you? And perhaps more importantly, Ataturk showed how could be fighting against the imperialists. Ataturk was an example to many oppressed nations by imperialists in the Middle East and Asia, for their independence. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, for example, said about Ataturk after his death: ​​”He proved that Muslims all over the world have the power to hear the voices by establishing Turkey. With Kemal Atatürk’s death, Muslim world has lost its hero. Will Indian Muslims still be willing to accept their present situation, while a leader like Ataturk as source of inspiration is in front of them?” This insprition is silly for you?

            Anybody shouldn’t talk like knowing everything; you see. Also, maybe you have seen now how much your knowledges about Turkey are ill-formed and misguided after all these I wrote.

          • I think you misunderstand my purposes here. I have absolutely zero interest in talking about Turkey. This is Canadian Atheist.

            You brought up Turkey and asked me why I don’t consider Turkey in the list of examples of secular countries, implying it’s being ignored because of its Muslim heritage. I answered by explaining in detail why Turkey is not a secular country, and never was. You actually agreed with that. As far as I’m concerned, that’s all that needs to be said about Turkey. It’s not a secular country, and it does not offer any useful lessons on how secularism should be done… there’s just nothing there of any interest to me, as far as secularism goes. Or Canadian atheists in general, for that matter.

            If you want to discuss Canada, fine. If you want to discuss secularism, fine. But Turkey? Why would I (or anyone reading Canadian Atheist) care about Turkey? Why would I care about whether the “secularism” it got matched the “secularism” Atatürk intended? (Neither of which is actually secularism, as you’ve even acknowledged.) Do you have anything that might be of interest to Canadian atheists? Or are you just on a crusade to defend Atatürk?

            The bottom line, as I see it, is this: Turkey is simply not a secular country, it never has been, and there is nothing Turkey can teach us about how secularism should be done. And the obvious evidence of that is its current situation, which, from where I’m sitting, is simply a case of Turkey reaping what it has sown for almost a hundred years: when you try to oppress religion, religion will just come roaring back. It always does.

  7. Reply for Indi to the comment with begining “I think you misunderstand my purposes here…”

    ………………….

    Your response was almost as I expected. I will not say that “you wrote this…”, “I wrote this in response beceause of that…” or etc, like you. Already, when a person reads your and mine mutual comments in here, he/she will see that who wrote for what, or didn’t write, or who avoided to write, or who defended somebody or not, and the attitudes of the owner of comments. Of course for this, if all comments can get a chance to remain with this original shapes like today.:)

    Also, a small and humble recommendation to you. The tags that seen at right side on your blog are on the google search engine. So if you don’t want the people living outside of Canada, so with your saying, if you don’t want the people “who doesn’t have anything that might be of interest to Canadian atheists” stopping by or read your blog, or not to take comment from them, you need to change / remove these tags. Because many of these tags on your blog appeal to more generally people than Canadian atheists. Removing these tags is also a easy procedure, anyone can do. Because anyone else who comes in here with following these tags can come from outside Canada again, start a topic over secularism or etc, and the subject can come to the country where he/she resides in, and you may need to write same things again, also this will take your and that person precious time.

    And, have a good day to you, please keep going like that. Because, perhaps, one day, in this your blogging process, you can access a wise person level that you will realize that you can learn something with open mind from another people who are really knowledgeable in some issues; who knows.

    • Your response was almost as I expected.

      Then why did you take both of our precious time – as you put it?

      Also, a small and humble recommendation to you. The tags that seen at right side on your blog are on the google search engine. So if you don’t want the people living outside of Canada, so with your saying, if you don’t want the people “who doesn’t have anything that might be of interest to Canadian atheists” stopping by or read your blog, or not to take comment from them, you need to change / remove these tags. Because many of these tags on your blog appeal to more generally people than Canadian atheists. Removing these tags is also a easy procedure, anyone can do. Because anyone else who comes in here with following these tags can come from outside Canada again, start a topic over secularism or etc, and the subject can come to the country where he/she resides in, and you may need to write same things again, also this will take your and that person precious time.

      So let me get this straight:

      1. You come to a site at the URL “canadianatheist.com"...
      2. ... which is named "Canadian Atheist"...
      3. ... which has a large title at the top of the page saying "Canadian Atheist"...
      4. ... which has an "about" page saying Canadian Atheist is an independent blog with multiple contributors providing articles of interest to Canadian atheists, secularists, humanists, and freethinkers. and a focus on topics relevant to Canadian atheists...
      5. ... which is actually marked in Google sites as being Canada-specific content...
      6. ... where every single story linked to from the page is about Canada, except for a couple by Scott Jacobsen...
      7. ... where every single link is a link to a Canadian site, podcast, or organization...
      8. ... and you look at a post whose first words are The Québec Liberals...

      ... and you decided this was a good place to strike up a conversation about Turkey...

      ... and that's our fault?

      And you suggest that we should take words like "secularism" out of our tag cloud because even though:

      1. the site URL is "canadianatheist.com"
      2. the site named "Canadian Atheist"
      3. the site has a large title at the top of the page saying "Canadian Atheist"
      4. the site has an "about" page explaining that it is for Canadian atheists
      5. the site is marked in Google sites as being Canada-specific content
      6. every single story linked to from the page is about Canada, except for a couple by Scott Jacobsen
      7. the tag cloud contains not just "Canada" (multiple times), it also contains the name of three Canadian provinces (some of them multiple times)

      ... you were somehow able to look at that tag cloud... and not see "Turkey" there anywhere... and somehow decide, "hm, this looks like a good place for a deep discussion about Turkey and its history"?

      Yeah... we'll take that "recommendation" under advisement. [/sarcasm]

      • Are you really still continuing? You have been a cosmic joke for me with your today’s comments.:)

        Your accusatory sayings continuously, actually forced me to give you a reply again. The language you used, is not only agressive, also it is provocative to a person who has come here and made comments. Which is, these are the things that the other people can see when read your comments. You are writing a response with such a misguided and distorted aggression that they contain arrogant and blindly repulsive.

        First, you are still accusing me with “to strike up a conversation about Turkey,” with nonsense context.

        You read again my comments by starting with first one, and you see(actually you see and know but you like the distorted obviously), I didn’t mention about Turkey. Until you accused me with being consensus with “white nationalists”, I had no intent to mention about turkey. I was going to ask general questions about muslim world and about secularism. But you forced me with your nonsense and prejudiced accusation; “white nationalist”. I had to say where I am writing from and what is my political opinion, so communism, against your provaking language.

        And when you wrote that that the Turkish constitution is not actually secularism, but that it is done through the laïcité by quoting and interpreting of the Turkish Constitution, I’ve thought at that moment, yes “there is a merit in here, there is a constitution items based on it”. However, at your later moments I noticed that you do not actually have the true knowledges about Turkey apart from laïcité, which is the subject of constitution. So yes, you obviously (probabaly) have a knowledge of secularism. But you are talking over imperialist propaganda based on purely lies and distortions, based on mainstream media and its sources entirely in the information about Turkey. (all my writings on diyanet and on women’s headscarves in Turkey were in well-intentioned; I have thought maybe you could learn something from them; but you do not even understand the good intentions.) And you think you have true knowledge. This tragicomic. So I mean that, with scientific approach, even if you have knowledge about secularism, if you do not know the sociological and political structure of an country as historical, and the understanding of religion of its people in every angle, or even don’t know what laïcité direction in and how the laws are applied on it (because everything you think you know about all them is wrong based) you can not tell whether that country is secular or not. In other words, what you insist on saying “Turkey is not secular” is not reliable.

        And when it comes to the tags issue: There was no need too much details by you; you can be sure I do have very knowledge about how works them and know how the web works.:)

        Your article title is “Religious accessories bans are not secularism”. This is such a general topic on the planet. This issue is being discussed in many countries from Europe to Asia and everwhere. If you list the tags on the side, if you write three tags which is inside your title too, ie “religious accessories, ban, secularism” on google, your article is the first on the google list at first page. This is good achievement actually, you can be happy.:) Of course, there is not only information about the Canadian atheists in the article you wrote, because you have to give general information to explain the issue. I’m not in a position to tell you what you wrote, you know what you wrote better than me. And when you give general information, no matter what the name of your blog is, everyone in the world will come here to read your article and even ask questions. You can not prevent it, there is no possible. So if an Algerian, a Syrian, or a Kyrgyz for example, or the others come here tomorrow or in the weeks or years, and if their questions would return to their country in a way(probably this way would be with the reson of your agressive language again), what will you tell them? You already told what you will tell them with your answers to me, did not you?

        This one is the my last comment in here. You can write whatever you want over it. I will not reply anymore, because I see that there is no way to talk to you with conciliator way and knowlegde shared. Also, do you know what the real sarcasm item is? It is that when a blog visitor wrote “… this will take your and that person precious time…”, the person who cannot see that it was written as refer to on the already happening.

        Have a good day.

        • Are you really still continuing?

          I have to continue. I don’t think you really have a clue what’s going on here. I am not only the author of this post, I am also the managing editor for this site. So when you ask questions about the post (as you did in your first comment), or point out (what you think are) technical problems with the site (as you did in your last two comments), I have to make some kind of response. Unless your comment is just straight-up trolling or devoid of any connection to the post or site, I have a responsibility to answer to it. I either have to clarify what I wrote (as the author), or say something about technical “problems” with the site (as the editor). You keep framing this as me wasting your time… but the truth is you’re the one wasting my time.

          I don’t know what you think is going on here, but you have walked into my place of business. I can’t leave. You can.

          First, you are still accusing me with “to strike up a conversation about Turkey,” with nonsense context.

          I am “accusing” you of that because you literally did it. Literally literally.

          You read again my comments by starting with first one, and you see(actually you see and know but you like the distorted obviously), I didn’t mention about Turkey. Until you accused me with being consensus with “white nationalists”, I had no intent to mention about turkey.

          So you did “strike up a conversation about Turkey”. I don’t care what your “intent” was. You brought up Turkey.

          You asked me why I don’t include Turkey in the list of secular countries. I answered that question.

          You listed examples that you thought show why “softening” secularism in Turkey has caused discrimination, and asked me to comment about them. I answered by pointing out that discrimination existed before the “softening” of secularism in Turkey – it was just a different group being discriminated against.

          You brought up Turkey, you asked me a bunch of questions about Turkey, so I answered them. Then you went off on this tirade about Turkish history, so I stopped you and said that this is a Canadian blog (as it says in the title). We’re not interested in the history of Turkey here. If Turkey provided a good example of how secularism should be done, that would be interesting, because Canada could learn from that… but Turkey is a terrible example of “secularism”, so there’s nothing of interest there for Canadian readers.

          However, at your later moments I noticed that you do not actually have the true knowledges about Turkey apart from laïcité, which is the subject of constitution.

          I never claimed I did, and I don’t know why you would expect a writer on Canadian Atheist to be intimately familiar with Turkey and Turkish history. I know all I need to know about it: it’s a shithole, a shithole that doesn’t do secularism right.

          But you are talking over imperialist propaganda…

          It’s funny that you throw around that phrase while defending Atatürk. What Atatürk did in Turkey is so blatantly imperialist in design, it’s ridiculous. He literally studied the ideas of French imperialism, and copied them.

          Your article title is “Religious accessories bans are not secularism”. This is such a general topic on the planet. This issue is being discussed in many countries from Europe to Asia and everwhere.

          Yes, but the site title, which is in big, bold text only a couple dozen pixels above the article title, is “Canadian Atheist“. You keep trying to blame this site and its layout for your own stupidity, but the bottom line is that the entire site is full of indications that this is a site with a focus on Canada. The fact that you were too clueless to realize that is your failing, not the failing of the site. What more could we have possibly done to make it clear that this site has a Canadian focus, put 🍁 a 🍁 maple 🍁 leaf 🍁 between 🍁 every 🍁 word 🍁 ?

          And when you give general information, no matter what the name of your blog is, everyone in the world will come here to read your article and even ask questions. You can not prevent it, there is no possible. So if an Algerian, a Syrian, or a Kyrgyz for example, or the others come here tomorrow or in the weeks or years, and if their questions would return to their country in a way(probably this way would be with the reson of your agressive language again), what will you tell them?

          If they want to talk about topics of interest to our readers – Canadian atheists – I will welcome their input, and have a discussion with them.

          But if they want to go on about Algeria, Syria, or Kyrgyzstan, then I’ll tell them that the readers of this blog simply won’t be interested, and tell them to go to Algerian/Syrian/Kyrgyz Atheist instead.

          You already told what you will tell them with your answers to me, did not you?

          Pretty much. It’s what I’ve been doing for many years, and it’s worked fine. Unlike you, most people are smart enough to get a clue.

  8. So does this mean that vegans can wear a small “V” pendant necklace, but not a large one? Or they can still do that, because under the Ontario Human Rights Commission, veganism is considered a CREED and not a religion? (Which is why Sinem Ketenci’s human rights complaint against Ryerson University failed, and why Renu Mandhane told newspapers that the new creed policy WASN’T made with vegans in mind, so that a vegan who is being discriminated against in the workplace wouldn’t necessarily win their case, even if it was a clear-cut case of discrimination? Vegans in Quebec should start wearing their stylized “V” symbol necklaces to work and see what happens.

    • I don’t think anyone can answer your question precisely. First of all, the final version of the law that was passed is very different from the form it had when this was written. The final law pretends it has nothing to do with religion whatsoever.

      But even with previous laws, it’s impossible to say what might have happened because it would depend very much on the wording of the bill. Even in Ontario, if the bill had targeted *religion* (and not creed), it probably wouldn’t have included veganism. But I don’t know what the situation is in Quebec – I don’t know enough about their various laws and charters to know whether they talk about “religions” or “creeds”.

      But I can at least speculate that at least in Ontario, the vegan would probably lose the case. Wearing a “V” is not part of the creed of veganism; there is nothing in veganism that says “you must/should wear a ‘V’ necklace”.

      (*However*, and this is just spit-balling… *if* there were a widely known symbol of veganism – like a “V” necklace, for exmaple – that people recognized as a symbol of veganism… so that when you see someone wearing the symbol, you know not to offer or serve them any animal products… then wearing that *would* probably be protected from discriminatory laws. Because even though it wouldn’t be part of veganism’s creed, it would be something of valuable and important service to the wearer.)

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