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A sincere question to Dr. Pipes

Reader comment on item: Islamist Turkey vs. Secular Iran?

Submitted by Debanjan Banerjee (India), Dec 7, 2010 at 23:31

Dear Dr. Pipes,

When you say about secularism in the Muslim World kindly explain what do you mean by that term "secularism". I guess if you mean by that term a separation between church and state then I have to say that kind of secularism was achieved by both Saddam's Iraq and Nasser's Egypt. Now I believe you opposed both those two regimes. Kindly tell me.

So when you say about secularism and show the evidence of say the Shah regime in Iran or those tinpot military dictatorships in Turkey , do you give those examples because those regimes were unashamedly pro-Western ? There are much evidence to suggest that the Shah regime in Iran and the military dictatorships in Turkey were very much unpopular and committed a lot of human rights abuses. So kindly explain why do you support them ?


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Daniel Pipes replies:

Secularism means separation of church and state. It is a worthy goal but not the only one. Stalin's Russia was secular but hardly a favorable model for that reason.

I supported pre-2002 Turkey and (to a much lesser extent) pre-1979 Iran not just because they were pro-Western but because they were moving in the right direction in terms of democracy, humans rights, secularism, and other goals.

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