Stockholm, Istanbul and the danger in the secular divide

Robert Joustra

June 8, 2013

I am not sure that the Stockholm riots are that similar to the violence in Instanbul. If I read the papers right, Stockholm was a protest by Muslims against a secular state. Instanbul was led more by secularists against a moderate, increasingly authoritarian Islamic government. Violence and Muslims in both, yes, but are they really parallel?

As to the general substance of the essay, in North Ameican life political religion has been a bit of a problem. Listening to one another necessarily means surrendering a unilateralism about enacting policy -- for Christians this has been especially true on the issues of abortion and same-sex relations. And often the resistance is internal: to civilly engage can and has been portrayed as "selling out."

Robert Joustra
June 8, 2013

The Stockholm and Istanbul riots are very different, so much so that you're right the parallel almost falls apart, with one caveat: both are about what is the so-called 'secular consensus', and both blame the religious as destabilizing it. In the case of Stockholm, immigrant religion, in the case of Istanbul government religion, at least on the part of some of its more socially conservative legislation, specifically re: alcohol laws.

As to your second argument, I am not convinced that listening means surrendering, but pluralist politics necessarily means concession and compromise. At least in Canada, there is no possibility of unilateralism when it comes to policy making.

Andrew Marr
June 8, 2013

I think that difficulty with being open to people who are Other is closely related to difficulties with people who are closest to us. That is, we tend to solve rivalries and tensions by uniting against others who are designated as enemies. For more on this, see my article "Mimetic Hospitality: Guests and Community in the Rule of St. Benedict"at http://bit.ly/ZYhhdz

Felix Scott
June 11, 2013

From a Turkish friend:
"This morning hundreds of police and water cannon vehicles marched into Taksim. There has been a peaceful environment for 10 days there. This morning at 7:30 people were still sleeping in their tents or having breakfast. When the police attacked with gas bombs a group of about 30 provocators who are NOT among us, NOT activists, NOT among the people who resist started attacking the police with molotov cocktails. Curiously enough the Toma s (water cannon vehicles) that are able to push away and separate hundreds of people within seconds (as we have seen many times in the two weeks) could not get rid of this group of provocators for over an hour now. Why? This is all a planned game to be played in front of the international media. The resisting people are still peaceful, they do not throw stones or molotov cocktails!!! This is a set up!"

June 11, 2013 at 4:55 p.m.

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