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The Concept of Laicism and Secularism

            In the daily social life of Turkey, one of the fundamental debates, among the different sections of the society is "laicism". The conservatives, mainly the religious section, claims that the laic principle of the modern state opposed to Islamic faith when compared to the "Western" type of secularism. Also they assumed that the laic character of the state develop an irreligious society by removing the freedom of worship. On the contrary, laics refused such an argument by expressing that the laicist character of the state is the only guarantee of the "faith and conscience freedom", which is an irrelevant misconception that is put forward by the conservatives as a conscious intention of changing the regime.
             The question "what is what?" needs to redefine and clarify all the conceptions for the sake of the ease of the society and render the factual meaning of Turkish experience of laicism.
             As a concept, the etymological basis of laicism derives from a Greek word "laikos" as of a meaning to qualify the non-religious man. The word "laikos" also derived from another word, called "laos" as of defining "people". In the ancient Greece, the members of the clergy class were called "kleros" and the other people beside this class were named as "laikos". Afterwards, the word entered to Latin as "laicus" and passed to Turkish from French.
             In the last days of Ottoman Empire, some philosophers were strived to arrange some unsuccessful words in Ottoman language. However, these efforts do not fit a suitable end. Particularly, after the establishment of the republic, the words "laic" and "laicism" gained a widespread usage as the results of the efforts of rescuing the politics from the religious influences and render dominance to "public sovereignty".
             Some other controversial concepts often confused other than laicism are "secularism" and "tolerance". In some cases, they are used in place of one another. Time to time, in English and German, both the words; secularism and tolerance are used in the meaning or defining laicism.

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